ALTERNATE ENDINGS, RADICAL BEGINNINGS by Visual AIDS: Mykki Blanco
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.
STONES & WATER WEIGHT responds to the need for new interpretations of HIV+ people. Mykki Blanco is portrayed in tasks that test the limits of the body, physical stress, and the boundaries of normative health. STONES & WATER WEIGHT is an exercise in how societies perceive the fragilities of those who survive with the virus. In this era of globalized fitness culture through the use of social media, “looking healthy” matters much more than actually being healthy. Using endurance as the motivation for the performance, the video creates a new perception of HIV+ people as strong and resilient. Research references include the Atlas myth, the god of endurance who holds the earth and the skies over his shoulders, and the neverending climb of Sisyphus.