World AIDS Day: Home Video: Media Art in Response to HIV/AIDS

A woman wearing glasses holds her hands out in front of her. There are tall buildings in the background

Still from "A Place in the City," courtesy of Nate Lavey and Stephen Vider

Friday, December 1, 2017 | 7:30 p.m.

On World AIDS Day (December 1), The Broad and Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI) co-present Home Video: Media Art in Response to HIV/AIDS. This one-night only screening of four videos reveal how activists and artists documented and reshaped everyday responses to HIV/AIDS from the 1980s to the present. Each video engages the concept of "home video" to create works that explore the intersections of art, caretaking, family and home. In The Thursday People, film and videomaker George Kuchar elegizes his friend, lover, collaborator and fellow underground cinema legend, filmmaker Curt McDowell. Charlie Ahearn (brother of Broad collection artist John Ahearn) offers an intimate video portrait of artist Martin Wong in his Lower East Side apartment. An excerpt from We Care, collectively produced by the "video support group" WAVE, captures intimate conversations with caregivers and people living with AIDS. And A Place in the City, directed by Nate Lavey and Stephen Vider, follows three artists and activists to reveal the urgency of caretaking, housing and family in advocacy for people living with HIV/AIDS today. 

A discussion with Stephen Vider will follow the screening. 



The Thursday People, George Kuchar, 1987. 12 minutes, 33 seconds.
(Video still courtesy of Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), New York)

George Kuchar, a legendary figure in New York’s underground film scene, also applied his wildly original sensibility to video. With his twin brother, Mike Kuchar, he produced a prodigious body of Super-8 and 16-mm films in the 1960s and 1970s — idiosyncratic narrative psychodramas and pop cultural parodies that are charged with perverse humor. In the mid-1980s, Kuchar acquired an 8-mm camcorder and began producing an extraordinary series of video diaries, chronicling a singular, ongoing personal history. Kuchar’s film and video works have been widely screened and exhibited internationally. He lived in San Francisco until his death in 2011. 




We Care: A Video for Care Providers of People Affected by AIDS (excerpt), Women's AIDS Video Enterprise (WAVE), 1990. 12 minutes, 34 seconds.
(Video still courtesy of Women's AIDS Video Enterprise)

WAVE (Women’s AIDS Video Enterprise) was a community of women impacted by and living with HIV who came together in the 1990s to make tapes about the ongoing HIV/AIDS epidemic. They were part of a larger movement of AIDS activists and artists who used video to tell their stories and make an impact through direct interventions into the narrative being constructed around the emerging crisis.



Portrait of Martin Wong, Charlie Ahearn, 1992/1998. 17 minutes, 59 seconds.
(Video still courtesy of Charlie Ahearn and PPOW Gallery)

Charlie Ahearn lives and works in New York City. Since the 1970s, Ahearn has documented street culture and the rise of hip hop in New York City, capturing the excitement and raw energy that infused the movement through photography, films, videos, and slideshows. His iconic film Wild Style (1983) is recognized as among the earliest feature films in hip hop history. In additional to his seminal films documenting B-Boy and hip hop culture, Ahearn made documentary shorts with artists such as Martin Wong, Kiki Smith, Jane Dickson, and his twin brother John Ahearn, and features such as Jamel Shabazz Street Photographer. His work has recently been screened and exhibited at The Walker Art Center, The Wexner Center, Museum Ludwig, and MOMA PS1. Most recently, P.P.O.W Gallery presented Ahearn’s solo exhibition Scratch Ecstasy.




A Place in the City: Three Stories About AIDS at Home, Nate Lavey and Stephen Vider, 2017. Originally produced for the exhibition AIDS at Home: Art and Everyday Activism  at the Museum of the City of New York. 17 minutes, 53 seconds.
(Video still courtesy of Nate Lavey and Stephen Vider)

Nate Lavey is a filmmaker and video producer. His work has been published by The New Yorker, National Public Radio, The Forward, and elsewhere.





About Stephen Vider

Stephen Vider is a historian and curator based in Philadelphia. He most recently curated the exhibition AIDS at Home: Art and Everyday Activism at the Museum of the City of New York, tracing how activists and artists have mobilized domestic space in response to HIV/AIDS from the 1980s to present. He was also co-curator of Gay Gotham: Art and Underground Culture in New York at the MCNY, and co-author of the accompanying book with Donald Albrecht. He is currently a visiting assistant professor in history and museum studies at Bryn Mawr College. His work has appeared in the journals American Quarterly and Gender & History, as well as the New York Times, Slate and Avidly. His book, Queer Belongings: Gay Men, Lesbians, and the American Home After World War II, is forthcoming from University of Chicago Press. (Photo courtesy of Steven F. Dansky)

About World AIDS Day

In 1989 in response to the worsening AIDS crisis and coinciding with the World Health Organization’s second annual World AIDS Day on December 1, Visual AIDS organized the first Day Without Art. A Visual AIDS committee of art workers (curators, writers, and art professionals) sent out a call for “mourning and action in response to the AIDS crisis” that would celebrate the lives and achievements of lost colleagues and friends; encourage caring for all people with AIDS; educating diverse publics about HIV infection; and finding a cure. More than 800 arts organizations, museums and galleries throughout the U.S. participated by shrouding artworks and replacing them with information about HIV and safer sex, locking their doors or dimming their lights, and producing exhibitions, programs, readings, memorials, rituals, and performances. Visual AIDS coordinated this network mega-event by producing a poster and handling promotion and press relations.

During the early nineties, as artists became more intimately involved with the group, Visual AIDS initiated numerous projects that included: A Night Without Light (the dimming of the New York skylight); the Electric Blanket (a nationwide outdoor slide projection with text and images); Positive Actions (an exhibition-competition for a television PSA held simultaneously in three NYC venues); the Broadside Project (distribution of copyright-free text and images by well-known artists targeted to specific audiences); and ambitious media collaborations, including AIDS Timeline by Group Material and national televised events.  Artists created many of the most moving actions, including Robert Farber's Every Ten Minutes.  By the mid-90’s, Day Without Art attracted more than 8,000 participants throughout the world.

In 1998, for its tenth anniversary, Day Without Art became Day With(out) Art. Visual AIDS added the parentheses to highlight the ongoing inclusion of art projects focused on the AIDS pandemic, and to encourage programming of artists living with HIV.

Since 2010, Visual AIDS has worked with artists and filmmakers to internationally distribute videos to museums, art institutions, schools and AIDS organizations.  To mark the 25th anniversary of Day With(out) Art in 2014, Visual AIDS distributed Alternate Endings, a program of commissioned videos by seven artists and collectives that was screened internationally and is available online to share widely.