AIDS and The Body
Dedicated to Mario Montez (1935-2013)
Eastern Bloc, East Village, NYC
Curator: Conrad Ventur
NOTE: Previous exhibitions are also available
on the website.
You're there with a camera. You have a moment to yourself.
You're not on the front line, for once. Wonder manifests itself. You
make a photograph of it. You see in metaphors. You press the button.
Look up at monuments melting. Some things take thousands
of years to decompose. Other forms last mere seconds. You can’t
see most of it anyway because we’re time-based too, and senses
have their own parameters. In the grand scheme, you come to appreciate
that nothing in your life lasts that long. It’s a nice thought
really. We all participate in this splendid plane of existence. But
we're not always being chopped up in the machinery. In those moments
between swinging blades, you make notes - you pick up a camera.
Photography like this proves something between you and
the unknown. You’re playing with this magical thread. A web of
Decisive Moments that you know Truth will land right in the middle of,
so you take it easy. One thread here - one thread there.
After great loss, are you less obsessed with yourself?
You were driving this project called your life. All of a sudden you’re
launched into a kind of outer space. No traction. No clear direction.
Vague idea that back to Earth is an option, but you don’t know
how to do it. And you’re not sure that’s where you want
to go either. If you can learn from this, the rest of your days will
be fuller. More creating. More communing.
You get your feet planted again. But something inside
you has converted. It’s a kind of awareness you got from losing
someone you love, or getting sick, or both. Is this a relatable situation?
You get some star-shine in you that you didn’t have before. The
senses that were limited before get some kind of extra-perceptual ‘top-up’
from losing a friend or losing your old self.
I appreciate my downtime now. I don’t have a program
for it though. I lost someone close to me recently. On September 26th
this year, legendary drag performer and inspiration to many, Mario Montez
died from a stroke. We were collaborators, and he was like a grandfather
to me – and queer! So many from his time are lost, many due to
the ravages of AIDS. He was a rare and magical being.
Today I'm drawn to the artists in this web gallery who
have lived, who are living, with HIV. Survived. Surviving. Creating!
Their images are tender, quiet wondrousness. As is.
About the Curator:
Conrad Ventur is a multi-media artist based in Brooklyn.
Working within the media of photography and video for the last
ten years, and more recently using installation, Ventur is interested
in activating moving image archives, whether finding material
online or looking at specific underground film archives and repositioning
them in exhibition formats.
His recent projects bring together pioneers of living
theater with younger generations of performers in live and recorded
environments. In 2012, Ventur's 13 Most Beautiful/Screen Tests
Revisited (2009-2011) were acquired by The Whitney Museum
of American Art.
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