ALTERNATE ENDINGS, RADICAL BEGINNINGS by Visual AIDS: Reina Gossett
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.
Reina Gossett’s Atlantic Is a Sea of Bones, 2017, is a short film drawing from the Lucille Clifton poem of the same name. It follows Egyptt LaBejia, an New York–based performer, through the city during the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. Set to an original score, this haunting and otherworldly film features small, everyday acts of refusal, resistance, and existence—performance, self-expression—that have a tremendous impact on the world. The film reveals how historic, systemic violence, such as the policing and killing of black queer/trans life, continues to haunt our contemporary landscape, and is inextricably linked to the ongoing AIDS epidemic and the arenas shaped so intimately by HIV/AIDS, where black queer/trans people come together and make life, including public and nightlife spaces.