AIDS/HIV

1983
Journey to the Sun, Varble

Stephen Varble began Journey to the Sun as a series of performances with projected slides in 1978. After becoming notorious for unauthorized costume performances on Soho streets in the mid 1970s, Varble receded from his public persona at this time. Deriving from his identification with his idol, the reclusive actress Greta Garbo, and informed by the spiritual practice of Subud, Varble began writing an allegorical epic about a musician, the Grey Crowned Warbler, who undergoes tribulation and metamorphosis on a journey to transcendence.

2016
Tom Kalin: An Interview

Tom Kalin is a screenwriter, film director, producer, and educator. As a key figure in New Queer Cinema, his work focuses on the portrayal of gay sexuality both in the age of AIDS and historically. Informed by his work with two AIDS activist collectives, ACT UP and Gran Fury, Kalin’s video work is characterized by appropriated images, original portraits, and performances.

2002
Cecilia Dougherty, Kevin & Cedar

I arranged a visit to poet/novelist Kevin Killian’s South of Market apartment in San Francisco to shoot a portrait of him, and when I arrived he had a guest, poet Cedar Sigo. They had corresponded earlier, but were meeting for the first time, and Cedar agreed to participate in our video shoot. This is perhaps the least planned, most verité and documentary of the videos about writers so far. Our immediate plan was for Kevin to read one of Cedar’s poems and for Cedar to read one by Kevin.

1990
Kissing Doesn't Kill

Part of a campaign initiated in 1989, this video is a component of Gran Fury’s plan to raise consciousness and advance medical and federal reform on AIDS policy. These ads ran on TV as a counterpart to controversial bus posters, which generated some intensely negative reactions. Using Benneton’s "United Colors" ad campaign to a decidedly different end, simple but powerful images and modern text deliver an enlighteningly direct message.

1994
kore

 

By focusing on the blindfold, kore explores the eye as purveyor of desire, sexual fear, and the fantasy of blindness. An alternative sexuality is founded in touch-based (feminine?) pleasure as opposed to a vision-based (masculine?) pleasure. An examination of institutional blindspots towards women, and people of color, concerning AIDS expands on the issue of vision, visibility and the disease.

This title is also available on Tran, T. Kim-Trang: The Blindness Series.

1982
Lady Hercules, a Prelude to ‘Journey to the Sun’, Varble

The performance artist Stephen Varble spent the last five years of his life working on an epic, unfinished performance-turned-video titled Journey to the Sun (1978-1983). Only partially complete and under constant revision, this complex work combined Varble’s history of making costumes for performances, with his fantastic stories involving metamorphosis and martyrdom. In 1982, Varble decided to make a “prelude” to Journey to the Sun, combining existing footage with new video taken in Riverside Park in New York City. This self-contained video differs greatly from the bulk of Journey to the Sun in that it is not constructed around the main narrative, but rather is composed of prefatory remarks and extended footage of outdoor scenes, and contains no dialogue. The main aim of this prelude was to provide a key to some of the main sources for Varble’s thought — actress Greta Garbo, spiritual leader George Gurdjieff, and founder of the Subud movement Muhammad "Pak" Subuh.

1994
The Last Time I Saw Ron

During the winter of 1994, actor Ron Vawter was in Brussels working on a theater production about the mythical Greek warrior, Philoketes. Philoketes was abandoned by Odysseus on the island of Lemnos after he had been bitten by a snake while on route to Troy. He was betrayed by Odysseus because his wound would not heal, provoking mournful cries and a stench that distressed the other soldiers.

1992
Tom Rubnitz, Listen to This

Listen To This is a fragment of collective memory that finds critical relevance in contemporary Queer discourse.  Tom Rubnitz weaves narration, image, and a form of temporality, dislocated from ‘real time’, into a video where artist and AIDS activist David Wojnarowicz’s loss and anger is palpable.

2017
Only Idiots Smile, Gregg Bordowitz

"Gregg Bordowitz’s 2017 performance lecture Only Idiots Smile features the artist on a stool in the New Museum’s top-floor sky room, riffing on the formation of his identity. At one point, he explains his 'Jewish identity is the template thru which I understand all my other identities… how to appear to others, how we’d like to seem to others,' how others might frame themselves to be seen by us.

1995
Mike Kuchar, The Pictures of Dorian Gay

Paint drips and body fluids ooze in this "tell all" and "hide nothing" documentary about two San Francisco males.

1993
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. 

2018
Sarah Schulman: An Interview

This interview depicts American writer, activist, and AIDS historian Sarah Schulman (b. 1958), discussing becoming a writer, her novels, and her long-term collaboration with filmmaker James Hubbard on projects devoted to gay liberation and AIDS activism. Born in New York to a Holocaust-surviving family, Schulman grew up in an era where women were not considered important.

2000
Sea in the Blood

Sea In The Blood is a personal documentary about living with illness, tracing the relationship of the artist to thalassemia in his sister Nan, and AIDS in his partner Tim. At the core of the piece are two trips. The first is in 1962, when Richard went from Trinidad to England with Nan to see a famous hematologist interested in her unusual case. The second is in 1977 when Richard and Tim made the counterculture pilgrimage from Europe to Asia. The relationship with Tim blossomed, but Nan died before their return.

1986
some aspect of a shared lifestyle

Focusing on early media reportage of the AIDS epidemic and the struggle for gay rights, some aspect of a shared lifestyle begins with the outraged response of the gay community to the 1982 Supreme Court ruling upholding a sodomy law in the State of Georgia, effectively banning gay sex. Reframing the debate from one of moral calumny to a matter of the Constitutional right to privacy, Bordowitz successfully portrays the complexity of issues surrounding the AIDS epidemic as it emerged in the early 1980s in this country, forceful

2015
Spectacle: A Portrait of Stuart Sherman, Robin Deacon

“We lose good artists to the past all the time because their work was ephemeral, or difficult, or fashion wasn’t on their side. The performance artist Stuart Sherman, who died of AIDS in 2001, was a candidate for disappearance on all three counts.” 

— New York Times, 2009