February 1 - 28, 2014

Visual AIDS and The Body

I Am My Own Landscape
Curated by Ivan Acebo-Choy

Sam Orwen, Lovers, 1982
Tim and David, Scrap Bar, NYC - Exhibitionist Series
Gelatin silver print, 4" x 5"

NOTE: Previous exhibitions are also available on the website.

Art History teaches us that portraiture is the recording of an individual’s appearance and personality. A landscape, furthermore, depicts scenery: grandiose verdant areas, vast or intimate natural refuge on to which individuals affix mythological and divine symbolisms. Nowadays, we can also encounter urban landscapes, images representing the interaction of individuals and their built environments. Yet, a landscape is not a portrait. The individual, Art History may say, is in the scene or the scene surrounds the human.

That statement could be true unless you confront the artworks of AZT, Christopher Conry and Robert Blanchon, for example, where human presence is not searching for a place to sing to, a site to conquer or a view to contemplate: they are it.

Peter Madero III and Vincent Cianni’s images speak of a type of belonging: the feeling that no other place could potentiate their desires. Leslie Kaliades and Benjamin Fredrickson capitalize on the obscenity of the mundane, the inevitable spaces that they are obliged to inhabit through thick or thin, through health and illness, pain and hope. This is why I smile whenever I stumble upon Felix Gonzalez Torres’ Portrait of Ross in LA (1991). Does Ross really disintegrate every time a visitor takes a piece of candy? Or does he become ever more compelling whenever that same visitor sees, once having experienced the artwork, a heap of sweet treats on the table, the festive fall of a piñata’s content, the lazy shadow of a broken column near a construction site, a crumbling stone on the pavement?

These artists have, to some extent, transcended their bodies. By which I mean, through their art they can also be understood as a drain, the adult video store that titillated them, the ominous hospital beds where they once rested, and couches and tables, and other spaces where they find solace from the world outside.

They have become a place, a landscape, a site: and this is not just a mere extension of their bodies, but rather the (un)pleasant feeling of being that neither the meticulous rendering of a face nor the careful expression of light could support.

See them become dark parking lots, frenzied sex cities, cozy domestic interiors, romantic green meadows. They are not merely in it; they are it, and it is in them. If they ever lacked a place to be, these images show there may be no better home than that which they have built for themselves.

About the Curator:

Ivan Acebo-Choy (BA, Wabash College, USA; MA, Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico) is a doctoral art history student interested in the confluence of Queer Studies and contemporary Latin American art.

He has participated in various publications and critical art history anthologies that analyze the possibilities of "queerness" in the Latin-American experience.

He recently curated You, the others; selections of latin american queer art, which stemmed out of his doctoral dissertation. He is near completion of his PhD at the University of Havana, Cuba.

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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"My whole life long I have done nothing but interpret my dreams of ultimate masculinity, and draw them." From an interview with Patrick Sarfati published in Rebel — Tom of Finland