A packed house came together in community to watch COMPULSIVE PRACTICE premiere on World AIDS Day, December 1, 2016. on the big screen at the New Museum. A post-screening discussion moderated by Jean Carlomusto featured artists Carol Leigh, Luna Luis Ortiz and James Wentzy, providing insights into the process and perspective behind the videos. Clips from the thought-provoking discussion are embedded below, and are also viewable on Visual AIDS' Vimeo account HERE.
COMPULSIVE PRACTICE was curated by Jean Carlomusto, Alexandra Juhasz, and Hugh Ryan for Visual AIDS. Participating video makers and artists include Juanita Mohammed, Ray Navarro (1964–1990), Nelson Sullivan (1948–1989), the Southern AIDS Living Quilt, James Wentzy, Carol Leigh aka Scarlot Harlot, Luna Luis Ortiz, Mark S. King, and Justin B. Terry-Smith.
Excerpt: “The lesson from this video, for me, now that we’re in ‘Trump World,’ is that it is extraordinary important for all of you who are artists to make your work, to make your daily work. But it is equally important for all of you who are artists, and those of us who receive your work, to do that in community, that is to say, in rooms together, like this, so that we know that that we are here together, that we exist in our power and beauty.” - Alexandra Juhasz
Excerpt: “Just last night I was realizing that it’s so valuable that we have this movement, we have this inspiration, and yes there are more and more laws that are extremely punitive, but what we have is even more valuable. Having community like this is something they can’t take away.” - Carol Leigh
Excerpt: “As soon as it all goes online, people have access to it. You can make your own. We are facing a great need for everyone to be as creative as possible, and to fight back with unchivalrous dodge.” - James Wentzy
Excerpt: “We hold each other accountable. We’re like, ‘we love you, we support you, we’ll walk you down the runw ay if we have to.’ But we also have after the ball, after the club, after we get home from work. We have that love and support. That’s what I find beautiful about house and ballroom culture, because it’s beyond the voguing…the beauty of it is when we get home.” - Luna Luis Ortiz
Excerpt: “We’re a little bit beyond Paris is Burning. Now I love the movie Paris is Burning and it did what it was supposed to do at that time frame, but that community has evolved on so many levels. Voguing is not just voguing. We have people who participate who are lawyers and doctors and workers at GMHC and I wanted to show that. That’s what started The Luna Show. I’m tired of people thinking that we’re just sleeping all day, we’re prostitutes, and we’re on the pier voguing, and that’s all we were.” - Luna Luis Ortiz
Excerpt: “You’re touching on something that runs through everyone’s work here, and that is that many of us started doing this because we didn’t see ourselves reflected in mainstream media, or we saw ourselves distorted in mainstream media, and felt the need to give voice to our own lives.” - Jean Carlomusto
From video diaries to civil disobedience, holiday specials and backstage antics, Betamax to YouTube, COMPULSIVE PRACTICE displays a diversity of artistic approaches, experiences, and expectations. The compulsive video practices of these artists serve many purposes—outlet, lament, documentation, communication, empowerment, healing—and have many tones—obsessive, driven, poetic, neurotic, celebratory. COMPULSIVE PRACTICE demonstrates the place of technology, self-expression, critique, and community in the many decades and the many experiences of artists and activists living with HIV/AIDS.
COMPULSIVE PRACTICE highlights subjects ranging from historic actions against government neglect to contemporary issues such as Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and living with an undetectable viral load. Altogether, the program charts over three decades of AIDS-related video production in the face of the ongoing crisis.
We would like to thank the New Museum, the filmmakers, and everyone who joined us at the New Museum on World AIDS Day December 1, 2016 for the premiere of COMPULSIVE PRACTICE for the 27th Anniversary of Day With(out) Art!
Videos by Kaz Senju
Presented in partnership with the New Museum.
Sponsored by a Humanities New York Vision/Action Grant.