For its twenty-eighth annual Day With(out) Art project, Visual AIDS presents Alternate Endings, Radical Beginnings featuring newly commissioned videos by Mykki Blanco, Cheryl Dunye & Ellen Spiro, Reina Gossett, Thomas Allen Harris, Kia Labeija [A&U, May 2015], Tiona McClodden and Brontez Purnell. Premiering on World AIDS Day 2017 at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and curated by Erin Christovale and Vivian Crockett, the video program prioritizes Black narratives within the ongoing AIDS epidemic.
Despite the disproportionate impact of HIV/AIDS within Black communities—in 2016 African Americans represented forty-four percent of all new HIV diagnoses in the United States—the stories and experiences of African Americans are routinely excluded from larger artistic and historical narratives, increasing the urgency of telling those stories. Alternate Endings, Radical Beginnings—which includes intimate meditations of young HIV-positive protagonists; a consideration of community-based HIV/AIDS activism in the South; explorations of the legacies and contemporary resonances within AIDS archives; a poetic journey through New York exploring historical traces of queer and trans life; and more—seeks to highlight the voices of those who are marginalized within broader Black communities nationwide, including queer and trans folks.
Visual AIDS organized the first Day Without Art to coincide with the World Health Organization’s second annual World AIDS Day on December 1, 1989. A call went out for “mourning and action in response to the AIDS crisis” that would celebrate the lives and achievements of lost colleagues and friends. More than 800 arts organizations, museums and galleries throughout the U.S. participated by, for instance, shrouding artworks and replacing them with information about HIV and safer sex. In 1998, for its tenth anniversary, Day Without Art became Day With(out) Art, parentheses added to highlight the inclusion of art projects focused on the ongoing AIDS pandemic and to encourage the programming of artists currently living with HIV.
You can catch the New York City premiere of Alternate Endings, Radical Beginnings at the Whitney Museum of American Art on World AIDS Day, December 1, 2017 from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. Currently, Visual AIDS is seeking partnering institutions to screen the hour-long video program on or around World AIDS Day. The program will be provided free of charge, with technical and presentation logistics coordinated by Visual AIDS. If you’re interested in screening Alternate Endings, Radical Beginnings through your organization, or highlighting the project through your social media platforms, please contact Visual AIDS Programs Director, Alex Fialho by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at (212) 627-9855.