DePaul Art Museum
935 W Fullerton
January 26 - April 2
In David Wojnarowicz’s Untitled (One day this kid…), 1990, a photograph of the artist as a young boy is surrounded by descriptions of the violence he will someday suffer at the hands of a homophobic society. Curated by Danny Orendorff, this survey of contemporary North American artists’ responses to HIV and AIDS sets up similar relays between a “chronic disease” in the present, defined by unequal access to treatment, and a devastating epidemic in the past. For many younger artists, Wojnarowicz’s ominous future tense––what will happen––has shifted to what could have been, a sense of the possible marked by profound struggle and loss. For “The Papi Project,” 2010–13, Oli Rodriguez researched his own father, who died of an AIDS-related illness in 1993, and solicited his friends and former lovers, perhaps in vain, via Craigslist. Matt Wolf’s early video Smalltown Boys, 2003, devises for Wojnarowicz a fictitious daughter whose activism consists of lobbying for the 1990s television show My So-Called Life to remain on the air.
Contradictory registers coexist—journalistic photography, video vérité, educational pamphlets—and are matched with Orendorff’s welcome insistence on the experiences of people of color. Nancer LeMoins’s acrid screen prints testify to the challenges of aging while HIV+ on a Native American reservation. Samantha Box and Rashaad Newsome document and memorialize primarily African American and Latinx ballroom communities. Tiona McClodden’s video Bumming Cigarettes, 2012, presents a black lesbian’s first HIV test as an intergenerational encounter. Aay Preston-Myint’s supercharged violet mural is accompanied by a DJ set by Jacquelyn Carmen Guerrero, also known as CQQCHIFRUIT, linking the dance floor and abstraction in a utopian proposition (they are both members of the Chicago-based queer collective Chances Dances). Are Preston-Myint’s flitting forms simply paint, the virus regrouping, or a cure, just on the horizon?