In the Curatorís
images for several months after choosing them, I'm still
emotionally impacted by each one in a way that I rarely
respond to art on museum walls. I chose these pieces because
they made me catch my breath. Now, seeing them as a group,
I think that each of the artists is giving us a wrestling
match between power and vulnerability. The tensions in that
false duality are exciting to me -- which parts are tender
and which parts strong?
Works by Gregg Cassin, Preston McGovern, Joe Brainard, and
Michael Borosky showcase a beefcake-masculinity with floral-glittery-dreamy-feminine
Images of birds/bird nests repeat in works by Gregg Cassin
and Michael Golden. In many cultures, birds are linked to
femininity (including trans-femininity) and homoeroticism.
The Yiddish word feygele, meaning little bird, is used as
slang for faggot.
Derek Jackson's photos offer a harder-edged femininity,
a genderqueer vamp whose tenderness isn't about the makeup
but the complicated come-hither look next to the words "HOLD
I think these combinations of gendered elements in work
by HIV+ artists are striking together because they defy
homophobia, transphobia and AIDS-phobia. In mainstream culture,
those fears are so intimately intertwined -- based on negative
associations that feminine = vulnerable, fuck-able, penetrate-able,
weak. But really we know that the ability to take in, be
vulnerable and real, be fucked, be held, ask for help ...
these are hard-won strengths.
Thinking about all these pieces together, my sense of Angel
Borrero's piece has shifted. At first I saw a chorus of
shared desperation ... but in context I wonder -- what is
strong? The tall metal buildings with thousands of isolated
rooms, or the voices asking for help?
b i o g r a p h y
Emily Nepon aka Killer Sideburns aka Emil Nitrate is a
writer, performer, and organizer living in Brooklyn and
working at Sylvia Rivera
Law Project as Grassroots Fundraising Coordinator.
Nepon learned (almost) everything she knows from ACT UP
Philly and West Philadelphia's crafty queerpunks. Nepon
recently wrote, produced and performed in "Between
Two Worlds: Who Loved You Before You Were Mine" --
a reinterpretation of The Dybbuk exploring the ways that
the next generation of queers are haunted by the first decade
of the AIDS epidemic.
month, Visual AIDS invites guest curators,
drawn from both the arts and AIDS communities, to select several
works from the Frank Moore Archive Project.
Founded in 1988 by arts professionals as a response to the
effects of AIDS on the arts community and as a way of organizing
artists, arts institutions, and arts audiences towards direct
action, Visual AIDS has evolved into an arts organization
with a two-pronged mission: 1) Through the Frank Moore Archive
Project, the largest slide library of work by artists living
with HIV and the estates of artists who have died of AIDS,
Visual AIDS historicizes the contributions of visual artists
with HIV while supporting their ability to continue making
art and furthering their professional careers, 2) In collaboration
with museums, galleries, artists, schools, and AIDS service
organizations, Visual AIDS produces exhibitions, publications,
and events utilizing visual art to spread the message “AIDS
IS NOT OVER.”
is now the most frequently visited HIV/AIDS-related site on
the Web, according to the Medical Library Association and
also the most frequently visited disease-specific site on
the Web, according to Hot 100. The Body contains a rich collection
of information on topics ranging from HIV prevention, state-of-the-art
treatment issues, humor and art. An invaluable resource, The
Body is used by clinicians, patients and the general public.
Part of The Body's mission is to enable artistic expression
to reach the Web, and to join art with other resources needed
to help the public comprehend the enormity and devastation
of the AIDS pandemic and to experience its human and spiritual