|curator's statement||january 2009 selection|
m a k i n g m o v i e s
c u r a t o r : b i l l t h e l e n
For years, I have been following the Visual AIDS online gallery and the resulting work at Visual AIDS. It was such a pleasure to be invited by Amy and Nelson to curate a show. I celebrate their actions. Going through the vault, I was flooded with memories of friends, places and ... times past. Since I had to travel to NYC recently, it also brought up memories of my trips there over the years and my relationship with the city. It was amazing to see friends in the archive and discover artists for the first time.
I was introduced to the AIDS virus back in 1983 in a rural Wisconsin high school, when I discovered I had been walking around with a sign on my back that was scribed "Incurable AIDS victim, Please kick me!" How charming. As I moved through college, the virus became more active and more public. My most vivid memories were joining Act Up!, studying film and wondering about my own health status. College, friends ... passing, it all seems to be a blur. When I think back, the past and future all blend into a stream-of-consciousness movie. I look to the past and remember the goodness in my lost friends, not always the darkness hanging over our heads like a dark cloud. The images I chose triggered these memories in me in ways I hadn't expected.
I approached this project like I was editing a film. I always loved films that defy narrative and jump back and forth in time. I am constantly asking myself: Why do we have to follow a timeline and be a slave to time-based structure. I find myself always asking what is happening offscreen or after the film has ended. People all love stories and happy endings. I wish life were this easy. The randomness of images out of place is very dream-like, floating the viewer from scene to scene. In my own work, I pull from every aspect of my life. Curating group shows is no different. I pull together what makes sense to me and hope others can follow along. It's the best I can do. I can only hope to connect with the film that is playing in my head -- pulling snapshots out that are never on point and always deviate from a driving narrative. I aim to allow the viewer make the story propel forward in their own way. Unfortunately, every film has to end, even though the movie in my head goes on and on.
I hope you enjoy the movie.
b i o g r a p h y
Bill Thelen is an artist, educator and curator from Raleigh, N.C. He has exhibited both nationally and internationally and has been the owner and director of Lump gallery/projects in Raleigh since 1996.