World AIDS Day: Where Will You Be?
Drawing inspiration from a line in American poet and activist Pat Parker’s poem, “[Boots are being polished],” The Broad’s World AIDS Day 2020 commemoration looks to the painful past of HIV and AIDS, and the impact which the pandemic has had on inspiring perseverance and commemoration in activism and artistic output. The phrase “where will you be” holds not only political implications but also the weight of demanding remembrance, especially when confronting the statistic that Black Americans continue to account for disproportionately higher national HIV diagnoses according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Poet, writer, and performer Pamela Sneed reads from her latest book, Funeral Diva (City Lights, October 2020), a poetic memoir about coming-of-age in the AIDS era, and its effects on life and art.
Black AIDS Institute founder Phill Wilson reads “[Boots are being polished]” by Pat Parker (1944–1989), who he met at a Gay and Lesbian March on Washington—and whose words deeply impacted him on his lifelong journey of activism—and speaks of the poem’s relevance in today’s political climate.
Star florist, artist, and entrepreneur Maurice Harris eulogizes an uncle lost to AIDS when Harris was seven years old, incorporating a passage from “Vital Signs” by Essex Hemphill and the song “It’s Another Day” written by his uncle and performed by his gospel band, The Duane Kennedy Singers and Friends, with a commemorative floral arrangement performance.
Maurice Harris is a Los Angeles-based artist and the visionary behind Bloom & Plume, a bespoke floral design studio in Echo Park. His humor, craftsmanship, and dedication to his community has made him a much sought-after floral designer and one of the most followed florists on Instagram. Clients include Hollywood stars as well as top tier brands and institutions, including Louis Vuitton, The Row, Goop, Opening Ceremony, Dior, Nike, Gucci, Valentino, Dolce & Gabbana, Warby Parker, MOCA, and LACMA. Harris has been featured in Vogue, W Magazine, LA Times, Hollywood Reporter, Saint Heron, Rip + Tan and appeared on air for Viceland. Harris has exhibited floral sculpture at MOCA, photography at the San Diego Art Institute, and a performance piece at The Broad. He is the co-owner of Bloom & Plume Coffee. Most recently you can see him on his TV show Centerpiece for Quibi and Full Bloom for HBOMax.
Pamela Sneed is a New York-based poet, writer, and performer, and the author of Sweet Dreams, Imagine Being More Afraid of Freedom Than Slavery, Kong & Other Works, the chapbook Lincoln and the Chaplet Gift, and most recently, Funeral Diva (City Lights, October 2020), a poetic memoir about coming-of-age in the AIDS era, and its effects on life and art. She has been featured in The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Time Out, BOMB, Vibe, Artforum, Black Book, and the Huffington Post, on the cover of New York magazine, and in Nikki Giovanni's, The 100 Best African American Poems. Sneed’s visual work was featured in Found: Queer Archaeology; Queer Abstraction at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art and she has hosted Queer Art Film at the IFC in New York City, curated and performed poetry for Brooklyn Museum's Target First Saturdays, and was a guest curator for the Platforms spoken word series at Dancespace on the impact of the AIDS crisis on art. Pamela Sneed taught at Sarah Lawrence College and is an online Lecturer at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago teaching the courses Human Rights and Art and Writing Art, and was a guest critic at Yale and Columbia Universities and Visiting Professor at Columbia School of the Arts.
Phill Wilson and his partner, Chris Brownlie, were both diagnosed with HIV in the early 1980s. He envisioned bringing together the Black community to address the HIV/AIDS crisis. Relocating from Chicago to Los Angeles, Wilson worked as AIDS Coordinator for Los Angeles and with the National Association of Black and White Men Together, served as Director of Policy and Planning for AIDS Project Los Angeles and co-chair of Los Angeles HIV Health Commission, and became a member of the HRSA AIDS Advisory Committee. In 1999, he founded the Black AIDS Institute and was subsequently appointed to President Obama's Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS. He has received numerous commendations and awards, including induction to the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame, Ford Foundation’s Leadership for a Changing World award (2001), a Discovery Health Channel Medical Honor, and GLAD Legal Advocates & Defenders’ 2016 Spirit of Justice Award. Phill Wilson was also named “one of the 2005 Black History Makers in the Making” by Black Entertainment Television, and in June 2020, Queerty named him among the fifty heroes “leading the nation toward equality, acceptance, and dignity for all people.”
About World AIDS Day
World AIDS Day, designated on December 1 every year since 1988, is an international day dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection, and mourning those who have died of the disease. Government and health officials, non-governmental organizations, and individuals around the world observe the day, often with education on AIDS prevention and control.
World AIDS Day is one of the eight official global public health campaigns marked by the World Health Organization (WHO), along with World Health Day, World Blood Donor Day, World Immunization Week, World Tuberculosis Day, World No Tobacco Day, World Malaria Day, and World Hepatitis Day.
Since opening its doors in 2015, The Broad has presented annual programming for World AIDS Day to commemorate the many who have lost their lives to the pandemic, to recognize the many still living with HIV/AIDS, and to acknowledge that, globally speaking, the AIDS crisis is not over. At the height of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s, artists became activists and activism grew into an art form. Prime examples of this include Broad collection artists Keith Haring and David Wojnarowicz (both of whom died of AIDS-related complications), Ross Bleckner, who started his practice dealing with the AIDS epidemic in 1980s, and Mark Bradford, Glenn Ligon, and Jenny Holzer, who continue to use their artistic voices to highlight the need for public awareness around HIV/AIDS.Read More
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