Af·fixing Ceremony on Tiona McClodden [@]:
With this work, I am affixing this introduction as well as Hemphill’s work by extended it into the online space that Essex refers to in his cyberspace quote. I am also attempting to create a fixing ceremony or ritual presentation of Hemphill’s work that will invoke his spirit within cyberspace.
“Special” extends for a slow-rolling nine minutes, and it’s so expansive one could parallel park in its stereo field. The song is little more than a stately piano line, a synth that spumes like a squeezed juicebox, a rock guitar solo, handclaps so echo-y they seem to come down from heaven and the group harmonizing the title. With so few moving parts, one might imagine it grows tedious, but Levan manipulates everything so that each sound strides towards you and then veers away, cruising you yet remaining ever elusive.
As it continues to unfold, the song sublimates so as to be a mantra of uplift. In hindsight of the AIDS epidemic that would soon ravage the Garage’s audience and owner (not to mention Keith Haring, who designed the Peech Boys’s album cover), decades later it sounds more and more like a song of resistance and resilience in the face of impending death.
Sydney Morning Herald, 2 January 1982 (via Guardian)
With AIDS decimating the creative landscape, there was hardly a fight. The loss of a collectivized concept of art—at least as a mainstream process—is powerfully felt in the isolation of present-day artists, who for the most part are more willing to identify with previous generations than their own peers. It is a great victory for consumerism that even the most radical among us have chosen to filter ourselves through arts that have been authorized by corporate distribution.
[Part 3] Theme: History, Activism, Pride
30 days = 30 Posts
Stand off: police weren’t quick enough to prevent ACT UP’s Peter Staley from mounting the Department of Health and Human Services’ entrance overhang in Washington DC. Emblematic of the 1988 protest is an illegible sign hanging over the building’s street address, proclaiming a desperate acronym for AIDS: “America Isn’t Doing Shit.” (Note the digital editorial comment being made by the smoking officer, third from left.)
Documentary Shines A Light On NYC’s Homeless LBGTQ Youth
A quarter century after Paris Is Burning swept the independent film world with its verité depiction of life in the New York ballroom scene, the docks down by Christopher Street, off Manhattan’s West Side Highway, are still home to New York’s largest population of homeless LBGTQ teens and young adults of color. For the past four years, Elegance Bratton has been making a documentary with the people who live there. His in-progress first feature, Pier Kids: The Life, follows three homeless youths—DeSean, Krystal, and Casper—as they struggle to find themselves, and a place to spend the night, on the same streets where Bratton once stayed.
This Will Have Been’s retrospective gaze is deeply informed by the matrix of AIDS activism and the challenges laid at the feet of Anglo-American feminism by writers and theorists more frequently associated with the early to mid-1990s. This Will Have Been argues, however, that these voices and ideas were nascent at the beginning of the 1980s and, more importantly, they were also being fleshed out in works of art and in art criticism (which was remarkably robust during this period), just as they were slowly forming in the minds of writers such as Judith Butler and Homi Bhabha. This exhibition suggests that much of the art of the 1980s was involved in a shared project of expanding our understanding of identity and subjectivity, exploring the possibility of politics in a mediated public sphere, and offering increasingly nuanced and complicated versions of history and memory.
These two powerful social forces—movements for social justice and the rise of television—converged and matured in the art of the 1980s. There were hundreds, probably thousands, of artists working during the 1980s, but the ones included in This Will Have Been register and negotiate the effects of the above socio-historical phenomena.
The culture born of this nexus of desire, shaped by demands for equality on the one hand and the image world of the mass media on the other, makes desire both the cause and the effect for much of the art in this exhibition. Sometimes the desire is erotic, for objects or for bodies; sometimes the desire is for fame, for political change, for endings (e.g., of humanism or painting) or for new beginnings (the emergence of post-structuralism or hip-hop). But always coursing through the works chosen for this exhibition is a profound belief in the capacity of art objects—indeed, of culture in the broadest sense—to signify, enact, and enable these multifarious forms of desire.
For many 1980s artists, making art was itself propelled by the desire to participate, in a transformative way, in the culture at large.
Bags of ashes pictured here contain the bodies of used to be living, breathing, human people who happened to be AIDS patients, and who deserved better than being forgotten. They’re here as a sign of respect, because that was stolen from them.* Picture taken at the AIDS hospice outside of Lop Buri, Thailand in Wat Phrabaht Namphu, or Buddha’s Foot, Fountain Temple. Photograph by Luca Catalano Gonzaga
25 Years Ago
“When people with AIDS are under attack, what do we do? ACT UP! Fight back!” Continue reading
‘ After they passed, there were memorial services to plan with no real time to grieve because when one passed, you were needed somewhere else to begin the process all over ’
‘I kept a memory book/photo album of everyone I knew that died of AIDS. It’s quite large to say the least. Who were these guys? These were the people I had planned to grow old with. They were the family I had created and wanted to spend the rest of my life with as long as humanly possible but by the time I was in my late 40s, every one of them was gone except for two dear friends of mine.’
Gran Fury & ActUp mobilized an entire generation and through people answering their call a nation was forced to respond to the AIDS crisis. By just widely disseminating t-shirts, wheat pastes, & flyers or stickers. They were something to behold in the late 80s-Early 90s. Remember them very well as we see a groundswell of activism to fight back bigotry & abuses of power.