“REMEMBER: An AIDS Memorial Retrospective” Opens December 1 (World AIDS Day)
From December 1st through the 29th, the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art will present “REMEMBER: An AIDS Memorial Retrospective,” commemorating those lost to AIDS while they were still in their prime. According to a prepared statement from the OCCCA, “The exhibit offers a snapshot of the 1980’s underground, rife with counter culture indignation, sexual exploration and a resistance to the socio-political systems which marginalized alternative, queer lifestyles.
The exhibit will feature the work of three acclaimed artists: Kurt Weston (portraits), Barbara Romain (text-based work), and Alexandria Allan (transgressive, erotic work).
The exhibit opens on World AIDS Day 2018 with a reception from 5:00 to 10:00pm. As part of the opening reception, the OCCCA will present a panel discussion on the impact of the epidemic during the 1980s and continuing through the present, focusing on the underlying causes of the epidemic, such as poverty, homophobia, racism and stigma. Panelists will include Dr. William Thompson IV, Infectious Disease and HIV specialist; Philip Yeager, Executive Director/CEO at Radiant Health Centers; Alina Oswald, Author, Photographer and Arts Editor for A&U: America’s AIDS Magazine; and Kurt Weston, Artist, Educator and Advocate.
Weston told A&U, “I was diagnosed with full-blown AIDS in 1991 when I was admitted to the hospital with Pneumocystis pneumonia and a T-cell count of three… In 1993, I began to lose my sight due to Cytomegalovirus Retinitis… My most iconic work is my “Blind Vision” series of self- portraits. These photographs represent the physical, psychological and emotional weight of sight loss. The images illustrate an inner journey involving my fears about becoming totally blind. This is a journey towards infinite darkness and as a person living with AIDS I face the prospect of a greatly reduced life span and deal with threat and decay daily. It has been a bitter battle just to stay in this world, so I am not about to flinch or look away.”
That spirit of not flinching or looking away will inform the entire “Remember” exhibit.
Founded in 1980, the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art (OCCCA) is a 501c(3) non-profit corporation dedicated to professional excellence and freedom of expression in the arts. The Center is located in the Downtown Santa Ana Artists’ Village at 117 North Sycamore Street, Santa Ana, California 92701. General Admission is FREE; their hours are Thursday through Sunday 12:00 noon to 5:00pm; they are closed on major holidays and during installation of new exhibitions.
—Reporting by Hank Trout
Hank Trout, Editor at Large, edited Drummer, Malebox, and Folsom magazines in the early 1980s. A long-term survivor of HIV/AIDS (diagnosed in 1989), he is a thirty-eight-year resident of San Francisco, where he lives with his fiancé Rick. Follow him on Twitter @HankTroutWriter.