Tom Rubnitz

1956–1992

Over the course of the 1980s and up until his untimely death from HIV/AIDS related complications in 1992, Tom Rubnitz captured the personalities and energy of the East Village scene in his loony, anarchic, and hallucigenically-colored short videos. Screwball TV broadcasts from an alternate reality, these videos take the form of cooking shows, music videos, or kids shows, featuring downtown artists like Ann Magnuson, and drag legends-in-the-making RuPaul, the Lady Bunny, and Hapi Phace. As Amy Taubin wrote, Rubnitz's "glitter-dusted videos distill the sensibility of a generation of TV babies whose venue of choice was the Pyramid Club rather than the Whitney Museum." Rubnitz and his demented TV takeoffs live on in the YouTube era, with the ever-popular Pickle Surprise racking up over two million views and inspiring fan remixes and remakes. Rubnitz maintained a fine art studio practice and in SoHo and was included in various exhibitions, including a three-person show at Artists’ Space in 1980.

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