Newly commissioned videos by Mykki Blanco, Cheryl Dunye, Reina Gossett, Thomas Allen Harris, Kia Labeija, Tiona McClodden and Brontez Purnell premiering on World AIDS Day 2017.
ALTERNATE ENDINGS, RADICAL BEGINNINGS is the 28th iteration of Visual AIDS’ longstanding Day With(out) Art project. Curated by Erin Christovale and Vivian Crockett for Visual AIDS, the video program prioritizes Black narratives within the ongoing AIDS epidemic, commissioning seven artists—Mykki Blanco, Cheryl Dunye, Reina Gossett, Thomas Allen Harris, Kia Labeija, Tiona McClodden and Brontez Purnell—to create new and innovative short videos.
In spite of the impact of HIV/AIDS within Black communities, these stories and experiences are constantly excluded from larger artistic and historical narratives. In 2016 African Americans represented 44% of all new HIV diagnoses in the United States. Given this context, it is increasingly urgent to feature a myriad of stories that consider and represent the lives of those housed within this statistic. ALTERNATE ENDINGS, RADICAL BEGINNINGS seeks to highlight the voices of those that are marginalized within broader Black communities nationwide, including queer and trans folks.
The commissioned projects range from intimate meditations of a young HIV positive protagonist, to a contemporary re-imagining of 90s-era “safer sex” media culture, to a musical journey through New York exploring historical traces of queer and trans life, to accounts from formerly incarcerated women living with HIV/AIDS in the Bay Area. Together, the videos provide a platform centering voices deeply impacted by the ongoing epidemic.
Day With(out) Art 2017 is made possible through the generous support of The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation.
Mykki Blanco is a writer and international recording artist. Blanco found fame first as a fearless noise rap poet publishing the book "From The Silence Of Duchamp To The Noise Of Boys.” Blanco is known as one of hip hop’s queer pioneers amassing a vast global following with a savvy and savage social media output. Mykki is hailed online as a digital warrior princess who rules across the underground music scene with mixtapes like Gay Dog Food, cult hits like Kingpinning and sensational videos like Coke White, Starlight, The Initiation, Wavvy, and Haze Boogie Life. Everything Blanco has ever released has been razor sharp, ahead of its time and sometimes deliciously far out. Blanco has toured with Björk, recorded with Tricky and Basement Jaxx. In 2016 Blanco released "MYKKI" her debut album to critical praise. She has also been featured in The New York Times; on the covers of Gay Times as well as The Village Voice; and in Time Magazine, where she discussed what it means to be a musician living openly with HIV. Blanco lives and works internationally, often in Lisbon, Portugal.
Cheryl Dunye emerged as part of the 1990's "queer new wave" of young film and video makers. Dunye has made over 15 films including HBO’s Stranger Inside and her debut film, The Watermelon Woman, recently restored by Outfest’s UCLA Legacy Project for the films’ 20th anniversary. In 2016, Dunye received a Guggenheim Fellowship and became a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Presently, Dunye is an assistant professor in the School of Cinema at San Francisco State University, is at work on her next feature film Black Is Blue, and recently joined the directing team of the TV series Queen Sugar, created by Ava DuVernay for OWN. Dunye lives and works in Oakland, CA.
Reina Gossett is an artist and the 2017 Activist In Residence at Barnard College Center for Research on Women (BCRW). While at BCRW, she recently directed The Personal Things, an animated short starring iconic trans activist Miss Major and the everyday ways people fight back. Gossett often makes her art through collaboration. Along with Sasha Wortzel, Gossett directed Happy Birthday, Marsha! about legendary performer and activist Marsha P. Johnson. Gossett is an editor of the anthology TRAP DOOR about trans art and cultural production, to be published by the New Museum and MIT Press in October 2017. A longtime community organizer, Gossett worked as the membership director at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, Critical Resistance, Queers for Economic Justice, where she directed the Welfare Organizing Project and produced A Fabulous Attitude, documenting low income LBGT New Yorkers. Gossett moderated Visual AIDS’ 2015 event AGING FIERCELY WHILE TRANS and was a featured artist in Visual AIDS’ Playsmart safer sex kit project, exhibited and distributed in The Brooklyn Museum exhibition Agitprop. Gossett lives and works in New York City, NY.
Thomas Allen Harris is an award-winning director and President of Chimpanzee Productions, Inc. a company dedicated to producing unique audio-visual experiences that illuminate the human condition and the search for identity, family and spirituality, including feature length films, performances and live multimedia productions. Harris is a prolific gay artist who has shown at the Whitney Biennial and won Guggenheim and Sundance fellowships. Harris has recently shown in the AfroPoP series produced by the National Black Programming Consortium at PBS. His personal and innovative films- Through A Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People (2014), Twelve Disciples of Nelson Mandela (2005), E Minha Cara/That’s My Face (2001), VINTAGE-Families of Value (1995) have received critical acclaim at International film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Toronto, FESPACO, Outfest, Flaherty, Cape Town and Melbourne Arts Festival. Harris lives and works in New York City, NY.
Kia LaBeija is a contemporary artist who provokes awareness, acceptance and activism for HIV/AIDS through her portraiture and performance art. Her work explores the intersections of community, politics, fine art and activism. As a visual artist she stages digital portraits as theatrical and cinematic re-imaginings of non fictional events to spark conversation, complicating the way we view her subjects and the spaces they occupy. Labeija’s portraiture utilizes the medium of story telling, to preserve histories and make sociopolitical commentaries on current events. Labeija was a featured artist in Art, AIDS, America, alongside Keith Haring, Annie Leibovitz, Nan Goldin and Robert Mapplethorpe and more; she was the only woman of color; the only woman living with HIV; and the only artist born with HIV included in the exhibition. A performer by nature, LaBeija is a member of the Iconic House of LaBeija and uses Voguing as performance practice and community based work. Labeija lives and works in New York City, NY.
Tiona Nekkia McClodden is a curator, visual artist, and filmmaker whose work explores and critiques issues at the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, and social commentary. Themes examined in McClodden's films and works have been re-memory and more recently narrative biomythography, and shared ideas, values, and beliefs within the African Diaspora—what she calls, “Black mentifact.” McClodden’s work is interested in exploring intersubjectivities within Black communities as a tool for creating insider perspectives within film, time based works, and objects. McClodden lives and works in Philadelphia, PA.
Brontez Purnell has been publishing, performing, and curating in the Bay Area for over ten years. He is the author of Fag School, The Cruising Diaries and Johnny Would You Love Me If . . . (My Dick Were Bigger), the frontman for his band “The Younger Lovers,” and founder of the Brontez Purnell Dance Company (BPDC). The company’s founders, Brontez Purnell and Sophia Wang, build works that combine punk rock subversion, free jazz improvisation and a company comprised of movers and artists of all disciplines. Purnell has recently turned from music and dance to writing in order to use his own sex life and his incisive voice as an artist living with HIV to paint a vivid portrait of a sex life in the San Francisco Bay Area now. His new illustrated book, The Cruising Diaries, continues Purnell’s tradition of DIY literary and performing art. Purnell lives and works in Oakland, CA.
Erin Christovale is an independent curator and film programmer based in Los Angeles. She is the curator of Black Radical Imagination with Amir George, which has screened both nationally and internationally in spaces such as MoMA PS1, MOCA Los Angeles, and the Museo Taller Jose Clemente Orozco. Exhibitions include a/wake in the water: Meditations on Disaster (2014) at the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts, Memoirs of A Watermelon Woman (2016) and A Subtle Likeness (2016) at the ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives, and S/Election: Democracy, Citizenship, Freedom (2016) at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery. Her curatorial projects have been mentioned in ARTFORUM, Hyperallergic, African Arts Journal, Artsy. She is currently organizing Made in LA 2018 with Anne Ellegood at the Hammer Museum.
Vivian Crockett is a NY-based independent researcher, scholar, and curator focusing largely on art of African diasporas, (Afro)Latinx diasporas, and Latin America at the varied intersections of race, gender, and queer theory. She is a Ph.D. candidate in art history at Columbia University whose dissertation examines artistic practices and discourses in Brazil in the sixties and seventies. Her scholarly and cultural work seeks to assert a radically political analysis of modern and contemporary art and to foster the remembrance and visioning of cultural spaces that merge a commitment to artistic and cultural production with sociopolitical justice and collective liberation.
Friday, December 1, 2017