Beyond Boundaries

An Exhibition
curated by

JD Talasek and
Michael Hampton

University of Delaware

  JD Talasek and Michael Hampton

As we approached viewing the Visual AIDS Archive Project, we talked about how to curate this exhibition. Very quickly, we decided that we should simply respond to the work that we saw and not prematurely form a theme that might limit our perception. It was our hope to let the spirit of the Archive speak for itself and hear what the work itself was saying and not to let our preconceptions control the curatorial process. This was a wise approach.

Recalling our first thoughts after looking at the slides, we became intensely aware that the work in this Archive goes beyond the label of "HIV/AIDS art." Although such classification is valuable as a means for historical documentation, it runs the risk of reducing these dimensional, multi-faceted artists to the confines of a category.

The Archive has set out to preserve the work of artists who live with HIV/AIDS, but in reality it has done much more. The true strength of the Archive is found not by its definition but in the substance of its diversity. It is a reminder that we, as individuals, have many layers of humanity beyond a disease, race, gender, and social position. We are complex collections of individual experiences and actions that make up our lives' stories. The truths of our lives lie beyond the boundaries of labels.

In an archive where one might expect to see "doom and gloom" dripping from the very slides, we found life. We found artwork that speaks to us about being alive. Sickness and death are part of all of us, but this work is neither that simple to view nor easy to digest. It tells us what it is like to live with true and intense fear, to live with and without compassion. It tells us what it means to feel the touch of another human being and to be painfully aware of the very blood that flows within one's veins. We have chosen artwork that tells the individual stories of lives, attitudes, dreams and fears. For me, these are the images that resonate with what it is like to be alive. In this work, we find compassion for our fellow travelers. In this, we find our own humanity.


JD Talasek and Michael Hampton met at the University of Delaware where they teach photography. Both received their MFA degrees from the University in May 2001. Together, they brought Lightbox: A Traveling Exhibition of the Visual AIDS Archive Project (Spring 2001) to the University's Recitation Gallery. They also coordinated an exhibition of Lightbox at Fleckenstein Gallery in Towson, MD.

JD Talasek, a member of the Visual AIDS Archive Project, has had solo shows at Pinnacle Gallery (Texas), Rivaga Gallery (DC), and the Center for Creative Arts (Delaware) as well as many other group exhibitions across the country. He has been a regular contributor to the Dallas Morning News for over six years and his photographs have appeared in Photo Metro, Provocateur, La Fuente, The Houston Chronicle, The Washington Post, POZ, MAMM Magazine, The Advocate and many other national and regional publications.

Michael Hampton organized and curated This Collective Eye, showcasing work by fifteen young photographic artists. He has studied with John Weiss and Peter Goin. In August 2001, he will be attending the University of Maryland School of Medicine.


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