Donald Moffett, He Kills Me, 1987. Poster, offset lithography. Courtesy of the artist and Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York, Aspen. © Donald Moffett.
VOICE = SURVIVAL
June 15–August 11, 2017
Opening: June 15, 6–8pm
The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation
The 8th Floor
17 West 17th Street
New York, NY 10011
Hours: Tuesday–Friday 11am–6pm
#The8thFloor / #RubinFoundation / #VoiceEqualsSurvival
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The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation and Visual AIDS are pleased to announce VOICE = SURVIVAL, an exhibition curated by Claudia Maria Carrera and Adrian Geraldo Saldaña for Visual AIDS, on view from June 15 to August 11, 2017. VOICE = SURVIVAL examines voice as a medium and a metaphor used by artists and activists confronting oppression amid the ongoing HIV/AIDS epidemic. The multidisciplinary exhibition features artwork and archival materials by ACT UP, Jordan Arseneault and PosterVirus, yann beauvais, Mykki Blanco and Adinah Dancyger, Chloe Dzubilo, Gran Fury, Andrea Geyer and Sharon Hayes, Guillermo Gómez-Peña and Gustavo Vazquez, Shan Kelley, Audre Lorde, Donald Moffett, Pat Parker, Bob Rafsky, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, Marlon Riggs, LJ Roberts, James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook, Vito Russo, Kiki Smith, Ultra-red, Rosa von Praunheim, and David Wojnarowicz.
VOICE = SURVIVAL inverts the ACT UP movement’s rallying cry of SILENCE=DEATH, and is comprised of works that demonstrate the efficacy of vocal empowerment to fight for individual and communal survival. Exploring the entanglement of the voice with battleground concepts in HIV/AIDS activism like agency, citizenship, language, representation, inter-subjectivity, and the body, the exhibition weaves together sound and video works, including excerpts from the seminal Tongues Untied (1989) by Marlon Riggs, alongside Mykki Blanco’s 2016 video of Zoe Leonard’s 1992 poem, “I want a president…” directed by Adinah Dancyger.
Ultra-red’s sound installation Untitled (for multiple voices), 2010, consists of a libretto of demands assembled from SILENT|LISTEN, video and audio recordings of seven testimonial performances from 2005 to 2006. Staged as a series of tactical occupations of major American art institutions, they highlight the crucial role of the arts as an arena for open discussion and, in some communities, as the only public space to speak out about crucial societal issues.
The exhibition features artwork, ephemera, and a selection of archival audio materials from the David Wojnarowicz Papers at the NYU Fales Library. These include personal answering machine tapes (1981–92), sporadic personal “audio journals,” interviews of friends, and his performative readings of his own AIDS-related writing. Audio recordings of speeches by Audre Lorde and Pat Parker, The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action (1977) and Where Will You Be (1979), respectively, trace the intersectional activism of queer women of color in the 1970s and 80s. Framing language as crucial to survival amid oppression, they mirror the text works of Chloe Dzubilo and Shan Kelley.
Posters, drawings, and text-based works play on the metaphoric implications of verbalizing vitality, agency, and subjecthood. Kameelah Janan Rasheed‘s prints from How to Suffer Politely (And Other Etiquette), 2014, blend satire and societal suppression that, as Rasheed states, “explore how suffering, anger, and responses to trauma are policed to ensure that said expressions of suffering do not disrupt or declare accountable oppressive systems.” The implications of suffering in silence are also evident in Donald Moffett‘s poster He Kills Me (1987). Moffett’s depiction of President Ronald Reagan was used in ACT UP’s demonstrations against his 1987 Presidential Commission on the HIV Epidemic, which was widely criticized by activists for the Commission members’ demonstrable lack of expertise.
In LJ Roberts‘ embroidered work Portrait of Deb from 1988-199? (2012–13), Roberts draws from an archive containing activist buttons, stickers, and other articles belonging to a friend’s ex-partner who participated in ACT UP, the Women’s Health Action Mobilization, and the Lesbian Avengers from the late 1980s to the mid-1990s. Compiled and sewn together in Roberts’ work, they illustrate the intersecting politics active during this era.
By exploring the vital importance of the voice in both art and activism surrounding the fight against HIV/AIDS in the US and Canada, VOICE = SURVIVAL reveals how vocal protest can transform isolation into connection, impotence into agency, oblivion into memory, and extinction into survival. Ultimately, the exhibition highlights the potential of voice to confront the bio-political crises of the present.
About Visual AIDS
Visual AIDS is the only contemporary arts organization fully committed to HIV prevention and AIDS awareness through producing and presenting visual art projects, while supporting artists living with HIV/AIDS. Visual AIDS is committed to preserving and honoring the work of artists with HIV/AIDS and the artistic contributions of the AIDS movement. Capturing critical and audience acclaim, Visual AIDS’ art exhibitions examine the deep cultural history of the AIDS crisis and contemporary issues around HIV/AIDS today. Exhibitions are organized by guest curators and feature a range of emerging, international and HIV+ artists. VOICE=SURVIVAL was selected for The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation exhibition from a competitive call for proposals.
About The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation
The Foundation believes in art as a cornerstone of cohesive, resilient communities and greater participation in civic life. In its mission to make art available to the broader public, in particular to underserved communities, the Foundation provides direct support to, and facilitates partnerships between, cultural organizations and advocates of social justice across the public and private sectors. Through grantmaking, the Foundation supports cross-disciplinary work connecting art with social justice via experimental collaborations, as well as extending cultural resources to organizations and areas of New York City in need.
For further information, members of the media may contact:
Mathilde Campergue, Blue Medium Inc., T 1 212 675 1800, firstname.lastname@example.org
George Bolster, The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, T 1 646 738 3971, email@example.com