VOICE = SURVIVAL Closing Event: Artist & Curator Tour
The 8th Floor
To celebrate the culmination of VOICE=SURVIVAL, curators Claudia Carrera and Adrian Saldaña led a tour and spoke about their motivations for curating the exhibition. The tour featured participating artists Jordan Arseneault, Adinah Dancyger, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, LJ Roberts, James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook, Robert Sember (Ultra-red) and James Wentzy, who discussed their creative process and the works they have on display.
VOICE = SURVIVAL examines voice as a medium and a metaphor used by artists and activists confronting oppression amid the ongoing HIV/AIDS epidemic. The title of the show inverts the ACT UP movement’s rallying cry of SILENCE=DEATH. The exhibition is comprised of works that mobilize the multivalent concepts of silence and vocality, and the effectiveness of vocal empowerment to fight for individual and communal survival. It explores the entanglement of the voice and its absence with battleground concepts in HIV/AIDS activism such as agency and citizenship, language and representation, and inter/subjectivity and the body.
Adrian Geraldo Saldaña is from Houston, TX, and currently lives in Brooklyn. He holds a Master of Public Administration from the NYU Wagner School of Public Service. Saldaña has curated numerous exhibitions and public programs while working at the Abrons Arts Center of Henry Street Settlement, as well as a Project Booth at NADA New York in 2014. He served as a Fellow in NYFA's Emerging Leaders Boot Camp and a Prevention Justice Fellow in the Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP). Adrian has also worked at the Streetwork Project LES, a needle exchange program serving homeless and street-based youth, and the Harm Reduction Coalition, a national organization founded by needle exchange providers, advocates and drug users. He was a member of Queer Fist, a radical queer collective formed to disrupt the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York City.
Claudia Maria Carrera is a doctoral student and graduate instructor in the Department of Music at NYU. She specializes in sound, media, and performance studies. The exhibition VOICE=SURVIVAL grew out of her dissertation research, which examines the mobilization of the voice as a medium and a metaphor in the early years of the NYC AIDS crisis as a queer survival practice. At NYU, she co-curated the Music Department Colloquium Series and served as a shop steward and unit representative for GSOC-UAW 2110, the first graduate employee union at a private university in the U.S. Carrera has also worked as a stage director for theater and opera, including as a Resident Artist director for the Opera Theater of Pittsburgh. She has written about music, arts, and culture for Capital NY, and for the Tanglewood Music Festival, where she served as a Publications Fellow. Carerra lives in Astoria, Queens and holds degrees from NYU and Princeton University.
Jordan Arseneault is a translator, social practice artist, and performer in Montreal. He is the co-founder of Montréal HIV justice cell SéroSyndicat/Blood Union and currently coordinates MEDIAQUEER.CA. He has been HIV positive since 2006, and made his New York debut with his HIV interdisciplinary performance SEROCENE at MIX NYC. In 2012, he collaborated with AIDS ACTION NOW!’s Poster/Virus Silence = Sex, a critique of HIV criminalization featured in the catalogue of ARTS ART AMERICA thanks to an essay by Sarah Schulman.
Adinah Dancyger is a Korean/Polish/American filmmaker from New York City. She graduated from Bard College with a BA in film production. Her short film Chopping Onions traveled the festival circuit internationally: Cannes, Berlinale, Hamptons International, Busan Children and Youth, Reykjavík International Film Festival, and more. In 2016, she directed a film featuring musician and performer Mykki Blanco, who recites Zoe Leonard's 1992 poem “I want a president." Dancyger has directed films with Dazed and Confused Magazine and has been featured for her work in publications such as Vogue, i-D, Raveline, and Fader magazines. Interested in the documentary/fiction crossover, she likes to blend reality and fiction through personal and subtle storytelling.
LJ Roberts is an artist and writer whose studio practice incorporates a wide range of textile and collage techniques. Their work in VOICE=SURVIVAL brings an intersectional feminist perspective to recent dialogues concerning narratives and archives pertaining to the on-going AIDS crisis. Roberts lives and works in Brooklyn, NY and teaches at Parsons School of Design.
Kameelah Janan Rasheed is a Brooklyn-based interdisciplinary artist, former high school public school teacher, and writer. Through immersive text-based installations, large-scale public pieces, publications, sound projects, and discursive programming, her work engages with both figurative and literal language to explore how we narrate the relationships between the past, present, and future. She is on the faculty of the MFA Fine Arts program at the School of Visual Arts, and works full-time as a social studies curriculum developer for New York public schools.
James Romberger’s fine art pastel drawings are in many private and public collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Romberger worked with the late artist and AIDS activist David Wojnarowicz and colorist Marguerite Van Cook to adapt Wojnarowicz’s autobiographical writings into the critically acclaimed 7 Miles A Second, whichwas first published in 1996 by DC/Vertigo and then released in a revised, expanded edition in February 2013 by Fantagraphics Books. In 2014, Van Cook and Romberger collaborated on Van Cook’s graphic memoir The Late Child and Other Animals, also published by Fantagraphics Books. http://jamesromberger.com/
Robert Sember (Ultra-red) is an Assistant Professor of Interarts at The New School’s Eugene Lang College and is a member of the faculty for the University of Amsterdam’s Summer Institute on Sexuality, Culture, and Society. Sember is a member of the international sound art collective Ultra-red. SILENT | LISTEN, Ultra-red’s inquiry into the AIDS crisis in North America in the early 2000s, is represented by the sound installation Untitled (for Multiple Voices), 2010, one of two Ultra-red works included in VOICE = SURVIVAL.
Marguerite Van Cook came to New York with her punk with band The Innocents, after touring the UK with The Clash. She stayed and opened the seminal installation gallery Ground Zero with her partner James Romberger. David Wojnarowicz did two shows in the gallery and this relationship led to the graphic memoir 7 Miles a Second, a collaborative project with James Romberger and the late David Wojnarowicz, which garnered her a nomination for an Eisner Award 2014 for Best Painter/Multimedia Artist. Van Cook’s personal generational graphic memoir The Late Child and Other Animals with James Romberger (Fantagraphics) has been translated and published in France under the title L’Enfant inattendue. Her own works as an artist and filmmaker have placed her in many museum collections, including the Museum of Modern Art and the Schwartz Art Collection at Harvard. Her other credits include poet (she was awarded the Van Rensselear Prize while at Columbia) and actor. She holds an MA in Modern European Studies from Columbia University and is currently completing a Ph.D in French at The Graduate Center CUNY.
James Wentzy is an AIDS activist and documentary filmmaker associated with ACT UP throughout the 1990s. He has been producer, director and editor for the weekly series AIDS Community Television (aka DIVA TV) since 1991, producing over 160 documentary programs, including his own feature-length documentary Fight Back, Fight AIDS. He has documented over 700 hours of actions, demonstrations, conferences, and the communities’ cultural and artistic responses to AIDS. His footage frequently appears in others’ media documentaries. He worked as video archivist for the Estate Project’s AIDS Activist Video Preservation Project at the New York Public Library.