In the New York zeitgeist, you can’t have art without politics — especially not lately. As we enter the holiday season, strikes and marches continue throughout the city. Local and global politics are stoking creativity’s flames, and art has been a necessary backbone to supporting the Occupy movement. Last week’s lineup of art shows around the city made this marriage very clear, with the closing of MIXploratorium (a collaboration between MIX NYC Queer Experimental Film Festival and Department of Transformation, a queer arts collective) and the opening of War Is Trauma at Booklyn.
On World AIDS Day (December 1) Housing Works, Health GAP, Queerocracy and VOCAL-NY organized a march starting at Zuccotti Park for HIV/AIDS care funding. With an action of civil disobedience — eight activists stretched across Broadway blocking traffic — arrests were made. After reading about Patrick O’Connell (a founder of Visual AIDS, who helped create the red ribbon for awareness), I wondered if any AIDS-related work would show up in the MIXploratorium show.
It did. La MaMa La Galleria was a perfect space for MIXploratorium. As a true blue multimedia show, MIXploratorium was an arts installation with events spanning from its opening to its closing, bringing other queer artists from all over the city together.
Upon entering the room, long-time Lower East Side artist Peter Cramer’s “We, New Yorkers” work was undeniably powerful. Using New Yorker covers beginning from the year of his AIDS diagnosis onward, Cramer created a beautiful, otherworldly and humbling installation. Self-described as an “open-studio process,” the harsh reality of life during the onset of AIDS is palpable. In one part, which appears like a bloody pond you see the words “Safe Sex Saves Lives,” and in the wall of magazine covers you get the sense that time has passed.
Still, one can find solace in the (super?) natural world that Cramer created, which surrounds so much pain.
Another highlight was Avory Agony’s miniature zine shelves which were installed near chairs in a cozy corner, creating a little zine library. While it may also be quaint, spaces where people can share independent media have been vitally important in queer movements, as well as activist movements of all kinds.
With a pile of beanbag chairs in the middle of the room, people laid about waiting for things to get started. A queer pop-up photo studio flashed away as I inspected the works and caught up with old friends. Although I couldn’t stay for the performances later in the evening, I got the sense that as the night went on, spirits would be lifted. Mixploratorium reminded me of the possibilities in community spaces for art, where creative work — and support — can happen organically.
MIXploratorium ran from November 22 through December 2 at La MaMa La Galleria (74A East 4th Street, East Village, Manhattan).
Special Edition: 🖌️Artists’ Signatures ✍️
In this special edition, we investigate what artists’ signatures actually mean, and the fascinating results reveal the multifaceted history of this curious phenomenon.
What Is a Signature in the Internet Age?
As a cryptographic unit for record-keeping, an NFT can be seen as analogous to a signature or an autograph.
The Public Theater Explores the Hurricane Katrina Diaspora in shadow/land
Written by Erika Dickerson-Despenza and directed by Candis C. Jones, this lyrical meditation on legacy, erotic fugitivity, and self-determination is on view in NYC.
The Meaning of Ancient Greek and Roman Artisan Signatures
What did a signature mean in the ancient world, and how much can we trust what they seem to tell us?
Michelangelo’s Signature and the Myth of Genius
Michelangelo served as a stellar example for future artists who sought status and economic independence.
The Rubin Museum Presents Death Is Not the End
Tibetan Buddhist and Christian works of art made across 12 centuries explore death, the afterlife, and the desire to continue to exist. On view in NYC.
Uncovering the Photographer Behind Arshile Gorky’s Most Famous Painting
As we pursue photographer Hovhannes Avedaghayan a fascinating picture begins to emerge of him and the world of which he was part.
100 Years of Artist Signatures in a Detroit Club
The beams in Detroit’s Scarab Club act as a guest book of sorts, carrying a wealth of stories and history, including signatures by Diego Rivera, Marcel Duchamp, Margaret Bourke-White, Isamu Noguchi, and others.
When I Am Empty Please Dispose of Me Properly
Ayanna Dozier, Ilana Harris-Babou, Meena Hasan, Lucia Hierro, Catherine Opie, Chuck Ramirez, and Pacifico Silano explore the myths of the American Dream at Brooklyn’s BRIC House.
The Myth of Agency Around Artists’ Signatures
In an art world built on shifting sands, artists’ signatures become symbols of agency for some, and relics of the past for others.
The Women Artists Commemorated on an NYC Sidewalk
The signatures of Rosa Bonheur, Mary Cassatt, and six other historical women artists are engraved on a small stretch of sidewalk on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
Pratt’s 2023 Fine Arts MFA Thesis Exhibition Is On View in Brooklyn
The two-part exhibition features the work of 41 graduating artists across disciplines, including painting, sculpture, printmaking, and integrated practices.
Met Museum Repatriates 15 Objects to India
The sculptures were all at one point sold by the disgraced art dealer Subhash Kapoor.
Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova Placed on Russian “Wanted” List
Tolokonnikova has long been a thorn in the side of Vladimir Putin’s regime.