Home Video: Media Art in Response to HIV/AIDS


Tonight Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI) and the Museum of the City of New York co-present Home Video: Media Art in Response to HIV/AIDS , a screening and discussion of three videos that reveal how activists and artists documented and reshaped everyday responses to HIV/AIDS in the 1980s and 90s. The program, which includes works by WAVE (Women’s AIDS Video Enterprise), George Kuchar, and Charlie Ahearn, is organized in conjunction with the exhibition AIDS at Home, now on view at the Museum of the City of New York. Alexandra Juhasz and Juanita Mohammed Szczepanski, members of video collective WAVE, will share an excerpt from We Care: A Video for Care Providers of People Affected by AIDS (1990), featured in AIDS at Home; Karl McCool of EAI will screen and discuss The Thursday People (1987), created by George Kuchar in memory of filmmaker Curt McDowell; and filmmaker and artist Charlie Ahearn will present his video portrait of painter Martin Wong (1992/1998). AIDS at Home curator Stephen Vider will moderate.

The three videos screening tonight engage the concept of “home video,” making use of consumer video technology and the aesthetics of the camcorder era to create works that explore the intersections of art, caretaking, and home. In The Thursday People, legendary independent film and videomaker George Kuchar elegizes, with his own characteristic candor and humor, his friend, lover, collaborator, and fellow underground cinema legend, filmmaker Curt McDowell. In the weeks after his death from AIDS-related illnesses, McDowell is recalled by friends and family at a weekly gathering, at what was had been his Mission District home, called the “Soiree.” Like many of the videos Kuchar made in this period, The Thursday People is almost magical in how it mixes goofy, sometimes scatological, humor with serious concern and empathy. Charlie Ahearn offers his own intimate video portrait, documenting artist Martin Wong in his Lower East Side apartment. Ahearn provides a view of the artist "at home” — not only in his apartment and studio, but in the neighborhoods of the Lower East Side and Chinatown which Wong rendered indelibly in his paintings. We Care was collectively produced by WAVE, a remarkable “video support group” sponsored by the Brooklyn AIDS Task Force and arts funding organizations. The video, which includes an intimate view of one HIV-postive WAVE member at home, represents the result of six months of meetings among seven women exploring AIDS and video. Whether by challenging still-held notions of living with HIV/AIDS or offering a view of artmaking in a less gentrified New York or San Francisco, these works still resonate today, particularly at a moment when an already-troubled health care system is in peril and LGBTQ rights are under renewed threat.

Past Screenings