Series Description

 
Gregg Bordowitz: Part 1
TRT 01:38:29

Habit
Video Details
2001 | 52:23 | United States | English | Color | 4:3

A look at the video works of Gregg Bordowitz — artist and AIDS activist — coinciding with his retrospecitve I Wanna Be Well, currently on view at the Art Institute of Chicago.

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Habit
Video Details
2001 | 52:23 | United States | English | Color | 4:3

A look at the video works of Gregg Bordowitz — artist and AIDS activist — coinciding with his retrospecitve I Wanna Be Well, currently on view at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Close Details
Portraits of People Living with HIV
Video Details
1993 | 46:06 | United States | English | Color | 4:3

A look at the video works of Gregg Bordowitz — artist and AIDS activist — coinciding with his retrospecitve I Wanna Be Well, currently on view at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Close Details

About this program:

Gregg Bordowitz: Part 1, streaming on VDB TV May 16th-June 19th, 2019

VDB TV and the Art Institute of Chicago are pleased to present Gregg Bordowitz: Part 1, focusing on videos by writer, artist, and activist Gregg Bordowitz, presented on the occasion of I Wanna Be Well, the first comprehensive exhibition of the artist’s thirty-year career. The program includes several titles that have not been available through distribution for decades. Bordowitz’s Portraits of People Living with HIV (1993) is a series of video portraits featuring interviews with Derek Link, David Barr, Mark Simpson, Robert Vazquez, Frank Moore, and Stephen de Francesco that were originally broadcast on Living with AIDS, a cable television show co-produced by Bordowitz and Jean Caromusto at the Gay Men’s Healthcare Crisis between 1987-1993.

Gregg Bordowitz: Part 1 also includes the artist’s 2001 autobiographical documentary, Habit, which puts into dialogue Bordowitz’s own regimen of HIV treatment, his conversations with artist Yvonne Rainer about her own illness, cancer, as well as interviews and actions by the South African-based independent advocacy group Treatment Action Campaign, which formed in South Africa in 1998 to fight for access to antiretroviral drugs to treat HIV/AIDS. The group was an active participant in the 13th Annual AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa, in 2000, the first international AIDS conference to be held in an African country.

Like the exhibition currently on view at the Art Institute of Chicago, that includes video, art made for television, published poems, site-specific installation, live performance, and rare selections from the artist’s personal archive and library, this program of work on VDB TV moves between genres — from documentary and recorded public protests to intimate interviews and staged poetry reading — and Bordowitz’s varied approaches to art production. The collective program stands as a personal, thirty-year record of an activist artist who has lived with HIV for more than half his life.

This collaboration marks the first partnership between the Art Institute of Chicago and VDB TV and was organized by VDB and the museum’s co-curators Robyn Farrell and Solveig Nelson. I Wanna Be Well originated at the Cooley Gallery at Reed College, and was curated by Stephanie Snyder. VDB and the Cooley partnered to remaster the majority of the exhibition’s films. Gregg Bordowitz: Part 2, featuring more of the artist's videos, will begin on June 19th, 2019.

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About Gregg Bordowitz: 

A Professor and Director of the Low-Residency MFA program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Bordowitz was as an early participant in New York’s ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) in the late 1980s. In this capacity, Bordowitz co-founded several video collectives — including Testing the Limits, an advocacy group within ACT UP, and DIVA (Damn Interfering Video Activists) — that videotaped some of the movement’s earliest direct action protests and initiated works made by and for individuals who self-identified as HIV-positive. As the artist wrote in a famous 1987 essay, video had the capacity to “picture a coalition of people who will end this epidemic.” Simultaneously, Bordowitz made his own experimental videos and television broadcasts that juxtaposed performance documentation, archival footage, role play, and recordings of protest demonstrations, drawing influence from feminist conceptual art. Bordowitz’s work critiques patterns of media reporting and, in the artist’s words, creates “conjunctions and asymmetries” among his Jewish, bisexual, gay, and artistic identities through an expanded concept of portraiture as a mode of political and artistic address.

Featured titles

Habit

Habit is an autobiographical documentary that follows the current history of the AIDS epidemic along dual trajectories: the efforts of South Africa’s leading AIDS activist group, the Treatment Action Campaign, struggling to gain access to AIDS drugs and the daily routine of the videomaker, a veteran AIDS activist in the U.S. who has been living with AIDS for more than ten years. The videomaker moves through his day, attending to mundane errands, eating, taking pills, having conversations with friends (some of whom have diseases such as AIDS and Breast Cancer, and others of whom are healthy), as recurring memories of a recent trip to South Africa interrupt the routine. Habit presents a rigorous working-through of ideas concerning privilege, ethics, responsibility, futility, solidarity, hope, and struggle.

Gregg Bordowitz, Portraits of People Living with HIV

An up-close compilation of interviews and discussions with people living with HIV in the early 1990s. 

"We have to use these forms, no matter how tired they are, in order to experiment and to develop new forms. It’s the way I feel about art and documentaries: how are we going to develop more effective means of representation ‘for us’, for the people who are affected by AIDS, unless we use the available forms? That means employing clichéd forms. What we can try to do is to alter them and make them signify for us, so that what we come up with is something radically different than what is presented to us. It’s radically different because it's ‘us’ making meaning about our situation, and not just waiting for an invitation from the culture, which someone else has always defined."

— Douglas Crimp & Gregg Bordowitz, Art and Activism in AIDS, the artists’ response, Hoyt L. Sherman Gallery, and Ohio State University, 1989