At Home With AA Bronson: A Pioneer Of Conceptual And Queer Art


It’s a feeling that is obviously true for AA, who walks to retrieve a copy of his favorite book for us to study, smiling widely as he recounts how he first came across it. “I didn’t normally buy books, I normally got them out at libraries, but this one was a book on the Imperial Palace in Kyoto, and it blew me away. I saved up for months, because my father was very frugal with pocket money, and it was a very expensive book, and every weekend I would go to the bookstore and pore through the pages, and finally one week I went and it wasn’t there, and the sales lady said: ‘Don’t worry, don’t worry, I put it under here so that nobody else could get it!’”.

The book in question is Katsura: Tradition and Creation in Japanese Architecture, by Walter Gropius, Kenzo Tange and Yasuhiro Ishimoto, published by the Yale University Press in 1960. When AA found it, it changed something fundamental for him. He calls it his “landmark book”, and returns to it frequently still. Undoubtedly, his publishing exploits have had similar effects on others; as Mark says pointedly, “I used to hear it quite often, a younger person would come to visit AA and would say ‘I just want to tell you that when I was a lonely teenager in a small town, my bookstore carried FILE magazine, and it let me know that there was a life out there and that I could escape from where I was.’”

Though their love of reading remains, neither Mark nor AA need that kind of golden ticket to magically transport them to another place. Berlin, the “ideal queer space” as AA calls it, has become their home. As we finish our coffees, the pair tells us about their most recent visit to the Auslanderbehörde—the foreign office universally feared by those vying for a visa in Germany. “They saw us arrive, and the woman helping us said, ‘Oh, look, it’s the Künstler pair!’”, Mark tells us, laughing. “Yes”, AA says with a smile, “everyone has been so great, it seems we’ve really lucked out here”.


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