Other Stories of HIV/AIDS: Culture, History, and the Ongoing Epidemic


24 Aug 2017
Free, all welcome
RSVP essential to [email protected]

Over the last few years writers, artists, activists, academics and others have been both bearing witness to and working to destabilize and de-centre dominant narratives circulating about the history of HIV/AIDS. At the crux of this work is the fact that too often, AIDS-related histories centralize white, cis male, urban, US-based gay men during the 1980s and 1990s. Lesser known and often overlooked AIDS realities have been unearthed, but they continue to remain largely unknown. Central to the destabilizing process have been three questions: How do we know what we know about the ongoing HIV/AIDS crisis? What is being erased, forgotten? And, what has been put in place, created and/or ill-considered in the theorizing, documentation, archiving, and dissemination of the past as it relates to HIV/AIDS?

Over an informal, interactive day, participants will gather to speak about their AIDS-related projects, further consider the above questions and continue to build networks of knowledge as related to the past, present and future of HIV/AIDS, queer temporalities and utopian horizons.

All welcome for this free event, especially those who are living with HIV, impacted by the ongoing crisis and/or do AIDS-related work, and want to hear what others are doing. Artists, activists, academics, caregivers, performers, writers, and cultural workers are encouraged to attend.

The event will be structured in participatory sessions including presentations, small group discussions and regular breaks.

The event is organized by Aimar Arriola, Theo Gordon, Theodore (ted) Kerr, Conal McStravick, Jaime Shearn Coan, and Dan Udy, who do work on HIV/AIDS as researchers, writers, artists and curators.

image credit (clockwise): Ted Kerr, ‘AIDS 1969’, sticker, 2015; “1990 Talk Show W/ ACT UP: Larry Kramer, Mark Harrington, Peter Staley, Ann Northrop, Robert Garcia”, Youtube clip (included in Dan Udy’s ongoing research project ‘Going Viral: Mediating AIDS in the YouTube Decade’); ‘Keep Calm and Support !! NHS !!’, sticker, 2017; Ann P Meredith, “Eleana y Rosa, at the Ellipse at the White House, Washington, DC,” October 1988, Archival digital print (included in Theodore Gordon’s ongoing research ‘The AIDS Wars: A Kleinian Analysis of Art of the American AIDS Crisis’, The Courtauld Institute); ‘Anarchivo sida’ [AIDS Anarchive: a project by Equipo re (Aimar Arriola, Nancy Garín, Linda Valdés], exhibition poster, designed by Joaquín Gañez. Source image: Publication “Nunca me imaginé”, cover detail. Concepción, Chile, CEPSS, 1995.

More information:
As a center for AIDS activism from the earliest days of the known epidemic and a focal point for ongoing grassroots agitation over PrEP, London provides a vibrant backdrop for this session. We will draw on the city’s rich history of political organising and its unique relationship to other HIV/AIDS geographies within and beyond the global North; in doing so, the goal is to have an informal and rich conversation about HIV/AIDS, culture, and history, and to explore how these currently impact our communities both here and elsewhere. Partially funded by a Public Engagement Grant, Goldsmiths, University of London.

This event is connected to Communal Knowledge’s 2017 Spring/Summer programme Learning in a Public Medium, a series of events conceived by artist Conal McStravick drawing on intersecting academic and research practice on queer culture and history to address topics of the past, present and the future (and which takes as general departing point British video artist Stuart Marshall’s legacy.

Organisers Bios (in alphabetical order)

Aimar Arriola is a Basque curator and researcher working in the field of visual culture. A gardener at heart, he is currently a PhD candidate at Goldsmiths, London, and Chief editor of The Against Nature Journal, a new inquiry on the ‘against nature’ concept in law initiated by Council, Paris. Together with Nancy Garín and Linda Valdes, he develops AIDS Anarchive, a project on the cultural responses to HIV/AIDS in southern Europe and Latin America, with a focus on Spain and Chile.

Theo Gordon is finishing his PhD in Art History at the Courtauld Institute. His thesis, titled ‘The AIDS Wars: A Kleinian Analysis of Art of the American AIDS Crisis’, features chapters on the videotapes of Gregg Bordowitz, the representation of women with AIDS, and the works of Félix González Torres. He is a depressive queer boy who is lucky to live through passages of joy, and believes in the power of feeling and emotion, which is why he ended up working on histories of HIV/AIDS.

Theodore (ted) Kerr is a Canadian-born, Brooklyn-based, writer and organizer whose work focuses on HIV/AIDS. He was the programs manager at Visual AIDS, and received his MA at Union Theological Seminary where he studied Christian Ethics and HIV. Recently Kerr was one of four interviewers on the Smithsonian’s Visual Arts and AIDS oral history project. With respected academic and filmmaker Alexandra Juhasz, Kerr has published a number of conversations at the intersection of AIDS, culture, history and representation. Kerr is a founding member of the collective, What Would an HIV Doula Do?

Conal McStravick makes solo and collaborative works to explore the histories, social practices, and economies of art and queer politics. In 2013, McStravick began researching Marshall and has since developed a series of active research events titled Learning in a Public Medium. This series explores Marshall’s works, legacies and contemporary resonances as artist, activist, writer and educator through workshops, screenings and presentations. McStravick has appeared on panels at Glasgow Film Theatre, BFI London and Birkbeck Institute of the Moving Image to talk about queer film and video, Marshall and the Learning in a Public Medium project.

Jaime Shearn Coan is a writer and PhD candidate in English at The Graduate Center, CUNY. His writing has appeared in publications including TDR: The Drama Review, Movement Research’s Critical Correspondence, Drain Magazine, The Brooklyn Rail, Jacket2, Twenty Looks (XL): Finale, UNCOUNTED: Call & Response, and Women & Performance. Jaime served as the 2015-2016 Danspace Project Curatorial Fellow, and co-edited the 2016 Platform catalogue: Lost and Found: Dance, New York, HIV/AIDS, Then and Now.

Dan Udy is a writer and PhD candidate in the Department of English at King’s College London. His doctoral project – “Going Viral: Mediating AIDS in the YouTube Decade” – explores how HIV/AIDS history is remediated across Web 2.0, and argues that these new media practices unsettle the link between “queer” and “AIDS”. His research has been published in Unpopular Culture (University of Amsterdam Press, 2016), Gender, Place and Culture and Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media, and his criticism has featured in The Times Literary Supplement and ArtReview.


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