Are all Welsh twenty-somethings well versed in parrot illnesses? Are they experts in bird diseases? Apparently so if we’re to believe a bizarre scene–one of many–in the critically acclaimed surprise hit British drama miniseries It’s a Sin, which traces the AIDS crisis through 1980s and early 1990s London. In the scene in question, wide-eyed, endearingly …
“My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you,” warns Audre Lorde in her paper The Transformation of Silence Into Language And Action. In this essay, Lorde argues for speaking–the voice–as an essential, if not the most essential, activist tool. She concludes, “The fact that we are here and that I speak these words is an attempt to break the silence and bridge some of those differences between us, for it is not difference which immobilizes us, but silence. And there are so many silences to be broken” (44).
In her essay “Legacies of Trauma, Legacies of Activism” in the collection Loss: The Politics of Mourning, Ann Cvetkovich reflects, “The AIDS crisis, like any other traumatic encounters with death, has challenged our strategies for remembering the dead, forcing the invention of new forms of mourning and commemoration. The same is true, I would argue, …
Devastating, enraging, moving, motivating and yes, militant, Let The Record Show succeeds in powerfully and captivatingly revealing the innumerable and almost incomprehensible losses to the arts community, particularly in the 1980s and 1990s, as well as that community’s strong and outspoken response to the crisis.
Like Douglas Crimp’s seminal essay, Sean Strub’s Body Counts reflects both mourning and militancy, as well as everything in between, allowing the emotions connected to both queer sexuality and the AIDS crisis to be archived from shame to pride to love to guilt and immense grief.
Scrawled in black pen in one of his many journals in the New York Public Library’s exhibition Why We Fight: Remembering AIDS Activism, artist and AIDS activist David Wojnarowicz wrote, “If I die of AIDS, don’t give me a memorial, give me a demonstration.”
Last week, the New Museum, in collaboration with Visual AIDS, hosted an engrossing and important panel ACT NOW: Perspectives on Contemporary Performance and HIV/AIDS, tackling questions about the role of performance and the artist’s body in preserving, discussing and embodying the history, legacy and the current AIDS crisis.
Visual AIDS and the Pop-Up Museum of Queer History hosted a public forum, (re)Presenting AIDS: Culture & Accountability, to discuss the responsibilities of museums, galleries and other institutions when mounting exhibitions about HIV/AIDS. Organized in part due to Pop Up Museum of Queer History’s Hugh Ryan’s insightful New York Times editorial “How To Whitewash A Plague,” the forum was designed to, as moderator Ann Northrop described, create a space for “productive thinking for future work,” as well as understand the way the community interacts with cultural institutions.
Powerfully addressing both loss and its remains, Visual AIDS’s 25th anniversary exhibition Not Over: 25 Years of Visual AIDS at LaMaMa Galleria until June 30 presents art both created in the midst of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s and 1990s and from the later generation of artists who continue to deal with the losses, memories and ghosts of AIDS.