Retracing: 20 Years/20 Artists
A Look at Art Through the Age of AIDS
Peter Cramer and
As artists, who would have thought we would ever celebrate a Day Without Art? We certainly would not have twenty years ago when art, dance, sex, drugs and rock and roll were everything that fueled our creative impulses. AIDS challenged all of that for better and worse. Like a true marriage, we are wed to that time and forever changed. Not that people won't repeat the same lapses of judgement. . . . If we remember promiscuity without regret, perhaps it is because the one-night stands may have made it easier to experience the intense loss of friends, family -- loved ones. So here we are, still together twenty years later -- no cure but people living longer, even as different complications arise from the drugs that give us some hope.
Our curatorial choices look back at twenty years of the AIDS crisis. We selected a work of art for each year of the epidemic. It was a revelation to see how many people's lives had intersected with ours during years at ABC No Rio: Mike Parker who first exhibited his "Post Surfrealism" painting series there in NYC; Bruce Witsiepe who performed at No Rio as a member of the band Circle X and exhibited with the print collective Anti-Utopia; artists Valerie Caris and Hugh Steers who also exhibited there. The memories that are triggered by these works bring a gladness that is rudely overshadowed by questions. Who of these people has died? Who remains? We struggle to simply look at this art and appreciate its directness independent of such awareness, for this is what remains and continues to speak to us -- not of lives lost, but of lives lived in pursuit of their artistic visions and dreams.
Our thanks to Visual AIDS for inviting us to participate and be involved in their mission.
-- Peter Cramer and Jack Waters, 2001
Peter Cramer's films, videos, installations, and performances have shown in New York City, throughout the United States, and internationally. Jack Waters' work The Male GaYze was presented in the media program of the Whitney Museum's Black Male exhibition. He has written for numerous publications and is currently writing film scripts for his own production and a "social science fiction" novel. Cramer and Waters were a catalytic force behind POOL, a dance/performance collective in the early 1980s. Co-Directors of ABC No Rio for five years (1983-1988), they initiated an arts in education program in association with neighborhood public schools and settlement houses. Concurrent with their work at ABC No Rio, they among a group of colleagues co-founded and ran Allied Productions, Inc. a not-for-profit arts umbrella. In April 2001, Waters and Cramer's oeuvre was featured in a public forum at New York University's Department for the Study of Gender and Sexuality. That month, their multimedia installations Icons, Relics, and Artifacts and Vital Signs were exhibited at New York City's ABC No Rio and Dumba, respectively. In June 2001, they made a tour of Europe where they screened, exhibited and performed in Zurich and Venice. Their video installation Pride 2001 was on view for the month of June at the NYC Public Library Donell Media Center. Also in June 2001, their video Short Memory/No History: AIDS, Art, Activism screened at New York City's New Festival of LGBT Film and Video and then in July 2001 at Los Angeles' Outfest. For more information on these events and others, click here.
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