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Danspace Project to Launch Largest Curatorial Program in its History

Danspace Project has announced that the eleventh edition of its signature Platform series is the largest curatorial initiative the venue has organized in its four decades of operation. Fifty artists will participate in twenty-eight events during this multiweek series of programming that will examine the impact of AIDS on generations of artists.

“Platform 2016: Lost and Found” is named after a trio of dances first performed at Danspace by John Bernd in 1981. Bernd, who died of AIDS in 1988, was one of the first choreographers to bring representations of gay sexuality and the disease to the stage.

Curated by Ishmael Houston-Jones and Will Rawls, the program will reflect on the AIDS hysteria of 1981 to 1996 through a presentation of performances, conversations, film screenings, a print catalogue, a zine project, and a vigil that will take place from October 13 to November 19. Houston-Jones asked, “How is one able to, or can one, explain the pain, confusion, rage, and fear that HIV/AIDS caused a whole generation?” He added that the series will “try to recover the generation of mentors, role models, and muses” who died from the disease.

The project will also confront the historical perception around HIV/AIDS as a disease that primarily impacts white gay communities. Houston-Jones said, “The curators have kept in mind those who have been disproportionately impacted by AIDS in the United States which was, and continues to be, gay, bisexual, transgender, and female African Americans and Latinx.”

“Lost and Found” will kick off at the New Museum with a party to celebrate the catalogue’s publication on October 6. In the weeks that follow, there will be performances such as “Variations on Themes from Lost and Found: Scenes from a Life and Other Works,” “An Evening with Archie Burnett: Celebrating the Legacy of Willi Ninja,” and “All Black/An Invitation: An Evening of Poetry Curated by Pamela Sneed,” among others, and several non-performance events, including: conversations with Bill T. Jones, artistic director of New York Live Arts and choreographer and cofounder of Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company, and Neil Greenberg, who produced “Not-About-AIDS-Dance” in response to the loss of his brother and nine friends to the disease; a screening of Charles Atlas’s Son of Sam and Delilah, 1991; and a reading by Hilton Als. The majority of the programming will be hosted by Danspace, but partner venues include MoMA, Howl Happening: An Arturo Vega Project, and the Graduate Center at CUNY.

Conceived in 2009 by executive director and chief curator Judy Hussie-Taylor as exhibitions that unfold over time, the Platform series is organized by guest curators who address artistic, curatorial, and choreographic concerns.