featured gallery for April 2013
< body > and the notes
<body> and the notes
Format of the glossary allowed me to collect all the fragments I was interested at and in the same time to free me of a burden of precise and single narration. The reason is I still have a lot of doubts what would be, for me, “the right and important” descriptors and directions of the contemporary cultural and academic analysis of AIDS epidemics today.
Body.. Lesions.. skin.. border.. stigma.. death.. appropriation...resistance.. marketing.. voice, silence.. memory.. disappearing ... are some of the markers that constantly kept reoccurring in the writings of diseased as well in the theoretical texts that came after the beginning of the epidemic.
I am interested to see how this memory—” memes” of epidemics and its common denominators—are preserved and reflected in the hierarchy of the categories of the archive, and in the texts of other contributors. I conducted a simple analysis of the texts/tags of previous Visual AIDS web galleries. All the writings were collected and the words counted by their frequency. For instance, the term aids was used 168 times, work 139 times, activism 11 times, HIV 66 times...
I made selection of this tags and tried to create my personal thesaurus consisting of different forms of the archived bodies from Visual AIDS Archive Project and personal experience during my NYC residency.
Compare: WORD COUNT (extract)
Tags are descriptors generally chosen informally and by personal criteria. Tags are non-hierarchical and they produce temporary constellations of data. They are used to closely describe basic data or to give additional information.
There is immediate attraction and discomfort of constantly shifting and easy offered narratives: HIV+ and woman artists, HIV+ sculpture, HIV+Other. One tag is permanently and (over)dominantly present.
Compare: "Policy-Policy-Policy" Chloe Dzubilo
64 / COLLECTION 18
Managing the archive can be challenging: how to survive the archive, how to keep memory alive and adapt to changes of historical and social circumstances? I couldn't restrict myself on curating only digital reproductions of the artworks. Activities of the Visual AIDS office, the people I met, their work, exhibitions I visited seemed to me as equally, if not more, important.
Compare:; BGSQD by Greg Newton (left) and Donnie Jochum;AIDS ACTION NOW by Jessica Lynn Whitbread; AMT Visiting Artists Lecture Series by Julie Ault; Documenting Apartheid: Photography, Evidence and Activism in South Africa by Okwui Enwezor
The thing that I want to do sometimes with some of these pieces about homosexual desire is to be more inclusive. Every time they see a clock or a stack of paper or a curtain, I want them to think twice....Everything has a sexual mission, the walls, the pavement, everything..” – Felix Gonzalez Torres
Felix gave very precise protocols for naming his works. It is almost impossible to avoid his work when dealing with the epidemic. His oeuvre, as AIDS itself, is about that simple starting point where the trajectories of universal questions and personal histories are intersecting. And this is where the transformation occurs, where the candy became the body, and “ordinary” tuberculosis became AIDS.
While in New York I wanted to get tested for HIV is to see how easy it was. And apparently it is. If you manage to find a working hospital the procedure is almost automatic, clean - shame and guilt free.
Compare: "untitled 3 (Physician Desk Ref.)", 1993, Gin Louie
My grandfather died when I was fourteen and became an abacus. In the way ice turns into water, he became the object he left behind….My grandmother became a kimono belt with black pearls. My teenage friend became a plastic bag filled with a few of magic mushrooms he grew in his small apartment. My music teacher has just become the wig she wore after chemotherapy. I better start thinking what to become…excerpt from Molasses by Morinis & Sasamoto 2012
After my first weekend in New York I attended a performance by Aki Sasamoto. The small exhibition space in Brooklyn was filled with—to be honest, at first sight— not particularly interesting objects. Numerous ready-mades: tubes, microphones and blocks of ice. “What are those forces that turn people in an object?” The question was asked and then the transformation started. After one hour of a charming, intensive and touching performance I was left wondering how much of this absence is left inscribed in New York and if someone became a fortuneteller, windows or a chair?
Between direct gaze and free, “lascivious” bodies of Mapplethorpe and abeardedboy lies more than 30 years of doubt, guilt and shame. These bodies are “obvious” flesh, and the live one. These bodies have their integrity, they could be observed, objectified, sacred, dirty, penetrated and “desecrated” without fear. Hard won battles from the sixties for freedom of body was almost lost because of epidemics. And now, carnal has become endangering again.
Compare: "Egg", 1977-78, Jimmy De Sana; Self Portrait with Whip, 1978, Mapplethorpe; abeardedboy by abeardedboy
Death is one of the terms/tags most likely to be connected with HIV/AIDS. Some artists decide to exist and disappear under the spotlights, with pompa, with sarcasm, smile and explosion rather than melancholy, invisibility and sadness. The entrance theme of the ones who are going to die became one of the most well-known circus themes. "Entrance/Entry of the Gladiators" is a military march composed in 1897 by the Czech composer Julius Fučík. Appropriated and rearranged under the title "Thunder and Blazes," during early 20st century, it soon became known mainly through its association with the circus.
To disappear, by definition, means ceasing to be visible; to vanish; to go away or become lost, especially secretly or without explanation; or ultimately to cease to exist, to become extinct. Making someone invisible was historical as well contemporary form of punishment and mechanism of control.
Compare: Censorship and The Center - Update by -Visual AIDS Staff
One of the words reappearing during my research in NYC happened to be ‘guilt and fear’, not always so obvious but in different variations, somehow surprisingly familiar. It felt almost identical with the narratives of the war veterans in Croatia. The people affected with the epidemics I met in New York feel to me veterans of one forms of conflicts fought on a home ground. It was somewhat easier when the enemy was clear: corrupted politicians, ignorant conservatives, right wing extremists, evil communists and evil capitalists. It is much harder when it was a neighbor, co-worker or family member. Besides we´re talking not about distant jungle or desert but neighborhood:
“By far the most common challenge facing veterans is transition back into the day to day world. It is not easy going from being on guard to danger at every corner to functioning and acting immediately and forcefully to stay alive to a low threat peaceful environment where measured and peaceful responses are the order of the day. Even simple everyday things like green grass and neon signs can seem overwhelming after months of brown deserts and blackouts”- Zion House, a transitional home for female veterans in Avon, New York
ABSENCE 7 /
/ You say to the boy open your eyes
When he opens his eyes and sees the light
You make him cry out. Saying
O Blue come forth
O Blue arise
O Blue ascend
O Blue come in
I am sitting with some friends in this cafe drinking coffee served by young refugees from Bosnia. The war rages across the newspapers and through the ruined streets of Sarajevo...
I can hear Jarmans' text from the New Museum’s 93 exhibition repeating, echoing with me now that I am back in Europe. For Croatians at that time disease was the one raged across the newspapers, somewhere far away, gossip here and there, abrupt death of suspicious individuals, real survival was(is) always here.
What would be, for the official history, the appropriate terms/tags to emphasize and chose to describe the history of the AIDS activism: hero, human rights, freedom, individual, fight, revolt? The AIDS canon is in the process of being created. History has always been written by the winners, but there is still time to determine the “winning” side. The balance sheet is still open.
Compare:AIDS 2.0 by Avram Finkelstein;
WORD COUNT (extract)
Aids 178 , work 138, artists 82, art 79, one 73, hiv 70, images 69, works 65, archive 64, visual 63, time 55, through 53, many 49, artist 47, way 46, more 44, first 43, new 42, both 41, gallery 40, image 40, out 37, self 37, world 37, life 36, each 35, those 35, death 35, such 34, gay 33, people 33, over 32, sex 32, sawdon 31, two 30, very 30, frank 28, between 28, made 27, here 27, project 27, even 26, living 26, much 25, winn 25, before 24, longing 23, painting 23, now 23, web 23, created 23, smith 23, untitled 23, mark 22, see 22, physical 22, something 22, make 22, look 22, moore 21, body 21, found 21, escape 20, men 20, being 20, well 20, fashion 20, another 20, years 20, human 20, series 19, within 19, history 19, same 19, different 19, story 19, david 18, collection 18, hugh 18, whose 18, sense 18, moment 18, itself 18, meaning 18, mind 17, still 17, beauty 17, back 17, experience 17, together 17, left 16, began 16, blood 16, photographs 16, want 16, think 16, part 16, religious 16, bodies 16, portrait 15, know 15, use 15, during 15, selection 15, early 15, personal 15, smith's 15, lives 15, act 15, 1996 15, queer 15, sexual 15, form 14, long 14