ALTERNATE ENDINGS, RADICAL BEGINNINGS by Visual AIDS: Brontez Purnell
December 1, 2017 marked the twenty-eighth anniversary of Day With(out) Art, a day of mourning and action in response to the AIDS crisis. A presentation of short film and video works held concurrently at over one hundred art institutions and universities, Day With(out) Art is organized annually by Visual AIDS, the only contemporary arts organization fully committed to raising AIDS awareness and creating dialogue around HIV issues today. This year’s program, ALTERNATE ENDINGS, RADICAL BEGINNINGS, prioritizes Black narratives within the ongoing AIDS epidemic and features seven new and innovative short videos from artists Mykki Blanco, Cheryl Dunye and Ellen Spiro, Reina Gossett, Thomas Allen Harris, Kia LaBeija, Tiona Nekkia McClodden, and Brontez Purnell. ALTERNATE ENDINGS, RADICAL BEGINNINGS screened at 116 venues worldwide, premiering at the Whitney Museum of American Art on December 1, with additional marquee screenings at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in collaboration with the Studio Museum in Harlem, as well as the MCA Chicago and LA MoCA.
Set in an urban fairytale, DeShawn (an unlikely anti-hero) is smack-dabbing in the middle of a peculiar crossroads. He is haunted by the ghosts of one hundred men: ex-“boyfriends,” in addition to the ghosts of everyone they dated. His days are filled with spiraling epiphanies and lucid, reckless bohemianism fueled by systemic poverty and HIV ennui. In this particular sketch he is relating his philosophy of the world to an unknown caller on his landline telephone while magically shrink-fitting a new pair of jeans that he recently shoplifted from Levi’s.