Making the [Private] Public: Resonances between Art/Activism/Caregiving (1980 – 2080)

If pandemic logics bring about a rupture in lifestyles, curator Eduardo Carrera reviews the relationship between the artistic and the political around pandemic milestones, such as SARS and HIV/AIDS, to question how we may dismantle social control over bodies and move towards a health system that allows us to take care of ourselves and others in fairer ways.

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  1. SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) is an atypical pneumonia that first appeared in November 2002 in the province of Canton, China.

  2. Élisabeth Lebovici, SIDA (Spain: Arcadia, MACBA, 2020).

  3. The famous red ribbon originated in 1991 when a group of New York artists under the name of Visual AIDS Artists’ Caucus decided to look for a symbol that would show solidarity with those who carried the virus. So they organized themselves and distributed them among the participants of the Tony Awards of that year.

  4. Rent is a 1995 musical that describes the lives of various subjects and their struggles with sexuality, drugs, paying rent, and living in the shadow of AIDS. It takes place in the East Village of New York City from 1989 to 1990.

  5. Philadelphia is a 1993 American film directed by Jonathan Demme and starring Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington. Young lawyer Andy Beckett’s (Tom Hanks) life changes when he discovers he is living with HIV and is fired from the law firm he works for.

  6. Ballroom or Ball Culture was born in the twenties in the Harlem neighborhood as a queer scene: a space of articulation of LGTBQ presence in the Black and Latino community of New York. The definitive birth of this movement took place in the 1980s as a response to the AIDS epidemic.

  7. ACT UP is the acronym for the AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power, a direct action group founded in 1987 to draw attention to the AIDS pandemic and the people who suffer from it, in order to obtain favorable legislation, promote scientific research and care for the sick, until all the necessary policies are in place to achieve the end of the disease.

  8. Ann Cvetkovich, An Archive of Feelings: Trauma, Sexuality, and Lesbian Public Cultures (London: Duke University Press, 2003).

  9. The poster SILENCE=DEATH (1987) was also used by the group ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) as the central image of their campaign of activism against the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

  10. Douglas Crimp (1944 – 2019) was a historian, critic, curator, and activist. In 1987, he edited a special issue on HIV/AIDS in October, entitled AIDS: Cultural Analysis/Cultural Activism. In the introduction to the article, Crimp advocated “cultural practices that actively engage in the fight against HIV/AIDS and its cultural consequences.” During this time, he was an active member of ACT UP, a militant group against HIV/AIDS in New York.

  11. Élisabeth Lebovici, SIDA (Spain: Arcadia, MACBA, 2020).

  12. The Coccinelle collective was one of those that actively participated in the decriminalization of homosexuality in Ecuador in 1997. The members of the Coccinelle Collective were victims of torture, sexual violence, sexual abuse and cruel, degrading, and inhuman treatment. The State violated their rights and they demand just and comprehensive reparations. It is fundamental to show solidarity with their struggle, which is an open door for other people to take courage and denounce the events that occurred before the Dirección de la Comisión de la Verdad.

  13. Lucas Disalvo, “Un futuro para el sexo,” in La protesta sexual. Periódico anarquista discontinuo; year III, issue 18. To consult the archive visit: <https://protestasexual.hotglue.me/>


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