AA Bronson was born Michael Wayne Tims in 1946 in Vancouver, Canada. AA Bronson currently lives and works in Berlin. He co-founded the artists’ group General Idea with Felix Partz and Jorge Zontal in 1969. The three artists worked and lived together until the deaths of Partz and Zontal in 1994.
Since then, Bronson has worked and exhibited as a solo artist, often collaborating with younger generations of artists. Since 1999, he has worked as a healer, an identity that he has also incorporated into his artwork. From 2004 to 2010, he was the Director of Printed Matter, Inc. in New York, founding the annual NY Art Book Fair in 2005. In 2009 he founded the Institute for Art, Religion, and Social Justice at Union Theological Seminary in New York, which he now co-directs. In 2013 he was the founding Director of Printed Matter’s LA Art Book Fair. He has taught at the University of California in Los Angeles, the University of Toronto, and the Yale School of Art.
AA Bronson has received numerous awards, including: the AICA Award, AICA Netherlands, in 2014; Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, France, in 2011, the Officer of the Order of Canada in 2008 and the Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts, Canada in 2002.
Bronson’s artistic practice has long included elements of shamanism, although this tendency became more apparent only after the deaths from AIDS in 1994 of his collaborators Zontal and Partz. At the same time, as Bronson acknowledged: “The 60s obsession with Eastern religions, states of the ecstatic, and theories of radical living and working fit me perfectly. General Idea never presented itself as spiritual, but behind our corporate mask, we were the product of our generation.”
Bronson’s best-known project is perhaps his series of performative healing rituals and séances, Invocation of Queer Spirits (2008–2009), for which he collaborated with Toronto artist Peter Hobbs to stage spiritual experiences in five locations across North America; in Banff, Alberta, New Orleans, Louisiana, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Governor’s Island, New York, and Fire Island Pines, New York. Bronson has characterized this series of performances as “a hybrid between group therapy, ceremonial magic, a séance, a circle jerk, and a quilting bee.”
Solo exhibitions include: A Public Apology to the Siksika Nation, Toronto Biennial, Toronto (2019); AA Bronson’s Garten der Lüste, KW, Berlin (2018); AA Bronson, Kunsthalle Wichita (2016); AA Bronson’s Garden of Earthly Delights, Salzburger Kunstverein, Salzburg (2015); AA Bronson’s Sacre du Printemps, Grazer Kunstverein, Graz (2015); AA Bronson: Life and Works, University of Toronto Art Centre, Toronto (2014); AA Bronson: Tent for Healing, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2013); The Temptation of AA Bronson, Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam (2013); Invocation of the Queer Spirits (with Peter Hobbs), Creative Time, New York; Fire Island Pines, New York; Plug In ICA, Winnipeg; Creative Time, New Orleans, and The Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, Banff (2008/2009); AA Bronson: The Quick and the Dead, The Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, Vancouver (2004) and The Power Plant, Toronto (2003); AA Bronson, IKON Gallery, Birmingham (2003); Mirror Mirror, MIT List Visual Arts Centre, Cambridge (2002), Negative Thoughts, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2001); AA Bronson 1969–2001, Vienna Secession, Vienna (2000).
Recent selected group exhibitions include: Intimacy: new queer art from Berlin and beyond, Schwules Museum, Berlin (2020–21); STUDIO BERLIN, Berghain, Berlin (2020); Self Bites Self, Kunstverein Göttingen, Göttingen (2018); The American Dream, American Realism 1945-2016, Kunsthalle Emden, Emden and Drents Museum, Assen (2017–2018); good dying – wrong death, Museum für Neue Kunst, Freiburg (2017); Broken Flag, ICEBERG PROJECTS, Chicago (2016); Self-Timer Stories, Museum der Moderne Salzburg, Salzburg and MUSAC, León (2015); AA Bronson’s HOUSE OF SHAME, Burning Down the House, 10th Gwangju Biennale, Gwangju, South Korea (2014); Love Aids Riot Sex 2: Art Aids Activism 1995 Until Today, NGbK, Berlin (2014); Surplus Authors, Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam (2012); Composed: Identity, Politics, Sex, Jewish Museum, New York (2012); Singular Visions, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2010); Love’s Body: art in the age of AIDS, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Tokyo (2010), and Six Feet Under, Kunstmuseum Bern (2006).
AA Bronson’s work is represented in The National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; The Jewish Museum, New York; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; The Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C.; The Philadelphia Museum of Art, and The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.