Visual AIDS, the only contemporary arts organization fully committed to raising AIDS and HIV awareness through dialogue, art exhibitions and public forums, announces their virtual Day With(out) Art: Transmissions launch event, November 30, as a prelude to World AIDS Day on December 1. An annual event that began in 1989, this year’s Day With(out) Art will transition to a digital model as a result of COVID restrictions and brings together artists working across the world: Jorge Bordello (Mexico), Gevi Dimitrakopoulou (Greece), Las Indetectables (Chile), Lucía Egaña Rojas (Chile/Spain), Charan Singh (India/UK), and George Stanley Nsamba (Uganda) in a livestream premiere of new short films about the divergent and overlapping experiences of people living with HIV. On November 30th, the filmmakers will unite in a free virtual panel discussion moderated by Jih-Fei Cheng.
As this year’s programming gives faces and personalized stories to the global AIDS epidemic, the launch event provides a compelling platform for voices from beyond the United States to discuss a broad range of subjects that includes the erasure of women living with HIV in South America to ineffective Western public health campaigns in India, and the realities of stigma and disclosure for young people in Uganda. George Bordello’s Ministry of Health exposes adverse effects of pharmaceuticals on four men living with HIV in the city of Tlaxcala, Mexico through a silent and horror movie aesthetic, while Gevi Dimitrakopoulou’s This is Right; Zak, Life and After, is a sobering portrait of Zak Kostopoulos, a well-known queer AIDS activist who was publicly lynched to death in Athens in 2018. The collective Las Indetectables will premiere the provacative Me Cuido (I take care of myself/I’m careful), to explore the relationship between colonial paradigms of health, religious guilt, and the stigmatization of people living with HIV within Chile’s capitalist and neoliberal regime, while Lucia Egaña Rojas’ Female Disappearance Syndrome challenges gendered representations of HIV and AIDS, and the impacts of “female disappearance syndrome”—the erasure of women living with HIV from conversations about the epidemic. Charan Singh’s They Called it Love, But Was it Love? depicts scenes from the lives of those who have been reduced to a “risk group” by public health campaigns— and their search for fulfillment and love, and lastly, George Stanley Nsamba’s Finding Purpose reflects on the experience of producing a film about teens born with HIV in Uganda and the pervasive stigma that surrounded the project. Each film will be available in in English, Spanish, French, Japanese, Greek, Turkish, Portuguese, and Polish.
Originating as a response to the worsening AIDS crisis and coinciding with the World Health Organization’s second annual World AIDS Day on December 1 1989, Visual AIDS organized the first Day Without Art, calling for more than 800 museums, galleries and art organizations nationwide to shroud artworks in black cloth or close their doors as a gesture of mourning. The national project began as a way to recognize the loss of artists, colleagues and friends to the burgeoning AIDS pandemic. As the nature of the pandemic changed over time, Day With(out) Art transitioned to providing information about HIV and safer sex through exhibitions, programs, readings, memorials, rituals, and performances. Now a day to highlight artworks focused on the AIDS pandemic, and to encourage programming of artists living with HIV, the organization has recoined the initiative Day With(out) Art and has solidified its mission by working with artists and filmmakers to internationally distribute newly commissioned videos to museums, art institutions, schools and AIDS organizations, with in-person panel discussions and workshops to further support their message of advocacy. Due to COVID restrictions around the country, partner museums, art institutions, schools will also drive traffic to these films virtually in a unified effort to maintain the impact of the event.
“While we are living through the AIDS pandemic and the COVID pandemic simultaneously this year, we took extra care to safeguard the legacy of this annual project to transition to a digital event with a true global voice,” explains Esther McGowan, Executive Director of Visual AIDS. “This project is our mission at work, both providing support for artists impacted by AIDS and HIV, while raising awareness, educating the public, and standing up to stigma. We are proud to partner with the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Studio Museum in Harlem and The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles to raise the visibility of this project as well as a number of other institutions who champion advocacy through art.”
Day With(out) Art: Transmissions will premiere online Monday, November 30, 2020 at 6:00 p.m.
Pre-registration is required at visualaids.org/transmissions to gain event access and is free to join.
Beginning December 1, World AIDS Day, the video program will be available to view online at visualaids.org/transmissions.
TRANSMISSIONS will also screen in numerous locations around the world, both online and in-person. For the growing list of screening locations, https://visualaids.org/events/detail/dwa2020