Mixtapes for Hookers

This Month Is My Month, Part 2
May 2, 2011, 11:00 am
Filed under: art, internet, personal | Tags: , , , , ,

Since 1999, New York-based art nonprofit Visual AIDS has hosted a monthly web gallery featuring work made by HIV-positive artists.  Last November, the lovely folks there were nice enough to invite me to guest curate a gallery for them, and I’m pleased to announce that Personal, Jesus went live today.

Since last November a lot of things have happened.  The National Portrait Gallery completely lost its shit about the ants on the crucifix in David Wojnarowicz’s A Fire In My Belly, and this spring saw two different Mark Morrisroe retrospectives open up in New York.  (Note: While they’re both great I actually prefer the smaller show at ClampArt, which didn’t stress the artist’s biography quite as much.)

For me, putting this show together was fun because it took me out of my element a little bit.  Art shows I’ve organized before have been organized by doing studio visits and looking at JPEGs.  I’ve had to worry about children entering the gallery space, about promoting group shows in my apartment to a wide audience, and about hanging art on walls made out of horsehair plaster.  This gallery is quite the opposite, though:  the archive at Visual AIDS is almost entirely composed of slides, and the advantage of the internet is that you don’t need to worry about heavy paintings tearing large chunks out of your living room wall.

I also really like the idea of a thoughtfully-assembled web gallery made from a specific archive.  In the Tumblr age, when it’s possible to clomp together uncredited photographs of pretty much any piece of art ever made, there’s something really nice about working with a finite list of sources.

The gallery’s up forever, but it will be featured until June 1.

[image: Rebecca Guberman, My Fancy Dress, 1997]

2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

You writing is fantastic. I experienced it for the first time when I opened my Visual AIDS gallery of the month. You put together a very good collection and your words make it all that more enlightening.
Something I have been wanting to ask since I saw David Wojnarowicz’s pictures of the ants on the crucifix and the accompanying video, I want to now ask you. The crucifix picture seems pretty tame to me. I cannot imagine any of the christians I know getting too upset by it. What would really upset most of the provincial tastes is the repeated scenes of the man masturbating in the video. Could it be that the upset was with the masturbating and not the crucifix but they said it was about the crucifix because portrayals of sexual acts may be protected by Free Speech.
Just curious to hear your take on the matter.
San Diego, CA USA

I selected the images for this web gallery in early November 2010, just weeks before the furor wrapped around the Smithsonian’s appalling decision to pull David Wojnarowicz out of their Hide/Seek exhibit. Coincidentally, I had included the artist’s Untitled (Spirituality), the now-infamous image of ants crawling on the crucifix, for this gallery. But what made A Fire in My Belly so nauseating to the Catholic League is, of course, the very thing that makes the image so resonant. Anonymous, mysterious, ominous ants represent humanity, and their crawling over the body of Christ can be read in several ways: as sacrilege, as offering, or as feeble attempt to change the inevitable. While the video work was created explicitly in angry response to the AIDS-related death of Peter Hujar, the still image is far more ambiguous.

Comment by John, a San Diego art nut

I’ve actually thought about that, too… Are the ants really the problem? It seems like they’re not. But also if the problem is somebody masturbating, why not complain about that? They could call it pornography, but even if it was legally protected they would still kick up the same amount of fuss (if not more.) So it’s not as though the Catholic League couldn’t have used that argument. (Of course, people that pay attention to the Catholic League at all are something else altogether…)

Thanks for writing!

Comment by mixtapesforhookers

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