In a retrospective at the Art Institute of Chicago, Bordowitz reflects on living as a queer Jewish man with HIV and challenges us to understand the AIDS crisis as both historical and contemporary.
After two actions led by ACT UP activists encouraged the Whitney Museum to change a wall label, we went looking for people who could tell us who Wojnarowicz was and help us decipher his complex life and art.
HIV/AIDS activists return to the New York museum, while the museum updated their wall placards to reflect the continuing crisis and the recent action.
A dozen protesters gathered at the Whitney Museum of Art to condemn the institution’s lack of modern context about the HIV/AIDS epidemic in relation to Wojnarowicz’s artwork.
The primary takeaway of Brand New at the Hirshhorn is its demonstration of how high the stakes of representation became during the 1980s, a decade of proliferating imagery and technology.
VOICE = SURVIVAL contains some wrong turns and dead ends, but these impediments are few and do not detract from the sublime experience of listening to activists speaks their truth.
Zero Tolerance at MoMA PS1 tackles an ambitiously broad subject: the intersection between protest and art.
When I walked into Emily Roysdon’s latest exhibition, If Only a Wave, at Participant Inc., I initially felt like I might not be able to decipher the work.
SAN FRANCISCO — At the end of the 2012 documentary How to Survive a Plague, we see a group of ACT UP protestors march on the nation’s capital with the ashes of their dead, a counterprotest to the exhibition of the AIDS Quilt on the Washington Mall.
Before AIDS activists plastered posters reading “Silence = Death” on New York City walls and ACT UP shouted, “Fight Back, Fight AIDS,” the disease had already claimed the lives of thousands of New Yorkers. The first five years of the AIDS epidemic were characterized by a lack of information about the disease that triggered widespread panic and fear. Focusing on that time, from the appearance of AIDS in 1981 to the death of Hollywood icon Rock Hudson in 1985, which forced the disease into public discourse, the New-York Historical Society’s exhibition AIDS in New York: The First Five Years presents an incredibly important record of both the silence surrounding the growing crisis and the bravery of early activists and caretakers.
At some point, nearly two hours in, Marlene McCarty, one of the members of the AIDS activist group Gran Fury, an affinity group that was part of ACT-UP, reminded those gathered: “We were not making art.” The event was a panel discussion that took place at Columbia University on November 15, organized by Columbia’s School of the Arts, and was intended to draw on some of the themes present in the exhibition that just opened at the Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA) in Boston, This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s. The panel was comprised of ICA Boston curator Helen Molesworth and four members of the eleven-member collective that was Gran Fury: Avram Finkelstein, Tom Kalin, Marlene McCarty, and Robert Vazquez-Pacheco.
The question that prompted McCarty’s response was one of a handful that arose during the Q&A that followed the presentations by the panel. There was a similar tone to many of the questions that came up, the majority of which were something along the lines of: “How can we do what you did?” In addition to reminding those present that Gran Fury’s intention was never to make art, per se, McCarty added, “We were very brash about the fact that we were making propaganda.”
On April 25th, and in honor of its 25th anniversary, AIDS activist group ACT UP (The AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), joined by organizations ranging from Occupy Wall Street to Visual AIDS to Housingworks as well as other AIDS activist and queer organizations, will be staging a large scale demonstration on Wall Street reminiscent of its original Wall Street protests of the late 1980s.