Decermber 1 - 31, 2013

Visual AIDS and The Body

After Montezland
Dedicated to Mario Montez (1935-2013)

Sam Orwen, Lovers, 1982
Eastern Bloc, East Village, NYC
2012, Digital

Curator: Conrad Ventur

NOTE: Previous exhibitions are also available on the website.

You're there with a camera. You have a moment to yourself. You're not on the front line, for once. Wonder manifests itself. You make a photograph of it. You see in metaphors. You press the button.

Look up at monuments melting. Some things take thousands of years to decompose. Other forms last mere seconds. You can’t see most of it anyway because we’re time-based too, and senses have their own parameters. In the grand scheme, you come to appreciate that nothing in your life lasts that long. It’s a nice thought really. We all participate in this splendid plane of existence. But we're not always being chopped up in the machinery. In those moments between swinging blades, you make notes - you pick up a camera.

Photography like this proves something between you and the unknown. You’re playing with this magical thread. A web of Decisive Moments that you know Truth will land right in the middle of, so you take it easy. One thread here - one thread there.

After great loss, are you less obsessed with yourself? You were driving this project called your life. All of a sudden you’re launched into a kind of outer space. No traction. No clear direction. Vague idea that back to Earth is an option, but you don’t know how to do it. And you’re not sure that’s where you want to go either. If you can learn from this, the rest of your days will be fuller. More creating. More communing.

You get your feet planted again. But something inside you has converted. It’s a kind of awareness you got from losing someone you love, or getting sick, or both. Is this a relatable situation? You get some star-shine in you that you didn’t have before. The senses that were limited before get some kind of extra-perceptual ‘top-up’ from losing a friend or losing your old self.

I appreciate my downtime now. I don’t have a program for it though. I lost someone close to me recently. On September 26th this year, legendary drag performer and inspiration to many, Mario Montez died from a stroke. We were collaborators, and he was like a grandfather to me – and queer! So many from his time are lost, many due to the ravages of AIDS. He was a rare and magical being.

Today I'm drawn to the artists in this web gallery who have lived, who are living, with HIV. Survived. Surviving. Creating! Their images are tender, quiet wondrousness. As is.

About the Curator:

Conrad Ventur is a multi-media artist based in Brooklyn. Working within the media of photography and video for the last ten years, and more recently using installation, Ventur is interested in activating moving image archives, whether finding material online or looking at specific underground film archives and repositioning them in exhibition formats.

His recent projects bring together pioneers of living theater with younger generations of performers in live and recorded environments. In 2012, Ventur's 13 Most Beautiful/Screen Tests Revisited (2009-2011) were acquired by The Whitney Museum of American Art.

Every 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.”

The Body 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 dimensions.

Visual AIDS 
526 W. 26th St. # 510, New York, NY 10001
Phone: 212.627.9855  Fax: 212.627.9815

Visual AIDS Gallery

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“…I named what I thought was an enormous sum. Without blinking an eye, he gathered up my life work and handed me the amount I asked for: $70… I didn’t expect more. Remember that homosexuality was forbidden in most of the Western world; so all those businesses were illegal, black market. I knew that they wouldn’t have paid me more anyway — or so I believed then.”
— Tom of Finland