Derrick Woods-Morrow, Much handled things are always soft, 2019

For the thirtieth annual Day With(out) Art on December 1, 2019, Visual AIDS presented STILL BEGINNING, a program of seven newly commissioned videos responding to the ongoing HIV/AIDS epidemic by Shanti Avirgan, Nguyen Tan Hoang, Carl George, Viva Ruiz, Iman Shervington, Jack Waters/Victor F.M. Torres, and Derrick Woods-Morrow. Recalling Gregg Bordowitz’s reminder that “THE AIDS CRISIS IS STILL BEGINNING,” the video program resists narratives of resolution or conclusion, considering the continued urgency of HIV/AIDS in the contemporary moment while revisiting resonant cultural histories from the past three decades. STILL BEGINNING screened at 110 venues worldwide, premiering at the Whitney Museum of American Art on December 1, with additional marquee screenings at the Brooklyn Museum in collaboration with The Studio Museum in Harlem, as well as the MCA Chicago and MOCA LA.

“Much handled things are always soft” unearths the unwritten and undocumented histories of public sex culture in the south-side of Chicago. Through conversation with longterm survivor Patric McCoy, the film traces the height of activity in the 1970s, the downfall of cruising culture in the 1980s, and the prevailing summer heat, which continues to linger. Together, McCoy and Woods-Morrow reflect on their relationship to cruising, to photography, and to each other; attempting to bridge the gap between what was, and what still remains to be explored.

Commissioned by Visual AIDS for STILL BEGINNING: The 30th Annual Day With(out) Art

Derrick Woods-Morrow’s work is a meditation on deviation and disruption. Currently based in Chicago his artistic practice deploys a wide variety of media – photographic transfers, digital video collage, ceramics, and narrative performance. Exploring modes of representation, he salvages, displaces, and removes raw material from sites of historical significance and trauma, reimagines their future purpose and denies their perceived function, as he actively interrogates the correlation between labor and play. A recipient of the 2018 Artadia Award, Derrick received his MFA in Photography from the School of Art Institute of Chicago in 2016, and was most recently an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Photography and Teaching Artist at the University of Illinois Chicago. His work appears in the 2019 Whitney Biennial, in collaboration with Paul Mpagi Sepuya and his recent works will show in YNCI V: Detroit Art Week Expo, in a solo exhibition, curated by Darryl Terrell.