Exposé·es: people did not choose to be exposed to a virus, an illness, an epidemic.
Exposé·es: people did choose to be exposed in order to make visible this virus, this illness, this epidemic.
Amongst these people were artists. Amongst these viruses, these illnesses, was HIV/AIDS, which caused the deadliest epidemic of the past century and of the present one.
Today we live amidst epidemics that affect all of us, humans and non-humans alike. The book that inspired this exhibition, Elisabeth Lebovici’s Ce que le sida m’a fait. Art et activisme à la fin du XXe siècle [What AIDS Did to Me – Art and Activism at the End of the 20th Century] looks to sew back together subjective fragments of the deadliest epidemic of the last century: the facts, works, ideas and emotions that linked the material to the immaterial. It questions how the pulsations of desire, loss, anger, pain, memory and the archive have together made history. How they allowed for the (re)composition of interrupted genealogies, the federation of communities that produced forms and structures that still operate today, at times beyond their initial aims. How they anticipated questions of gender, class and race and the unconscious dynamic of ableism, the construction of norms around a putative state of “good health”.
In a way, this exhibition engages quite literally with the book’s title: what the AIDS epidemic does to artists, and what it does to an exhibition today. How it changes consciousness, society, creation. AIDS is here not a subject but rather as an interpretative grid through which to reconsider a broad range of artistic practices that were exposed to the epidemic. Beauty here emerges as a possible response in the face of the political and social consequences of intersecting pandemics.
Far from proposing a commemoration, the exhibition blurs temporalities and articulates a discourse in the present, inviting artists to question their own histories from the present day and reflect as to what was transmitted to them from the previous century.
Leaving behind the ostensible boundary between activism and artistic practice and focusing instead on the cathartic, therapeutic or informative effects of art, the artists in this exhibition come together around the ways in which they create and speak, in the ways in which they use their bodies and their affinities, all of which offer resources for new articulations between aesthetics and emancipation.
Elisabeth Lebovici, Ce que le sida m’a fait. Art et activisme à la fin du XXe siècle [What AIDS has done to me], collection « Lectures maison rouge », JRP|Ringier and La maison rouge, Zurich/Paris, 2017 [new and expanded edition in 2021].
Artistes : Les Ami·e·s du Patchwork des noms, Bambanani Women’s Group, Bastille, yann beauvais, Black Audio Film Collective, Gregg Bordowitz, Jesse Darling, Moyra Davey, Guillaume Dustan, fierce pussy, Nan Goldin, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Hervé Guibert, Barbara Hammer, Derek Jarman, Michel Journiac, Zoe Leonard, audrey liebot, Pascal Lièvre, Santu Mofokeng, Jean-Luc Moulène, Henrik Olesen, Bruno Pélassy, Benoît Piéron, Lili Reynaud-Dewar, Jimmy Robert, Régis Samba-Kounzi & Julien Devemy, Marion Scemama, Lionel Soukaz & Stéphane Gérard, Georges Tony Stoll, Philippe Thomas, David Wojnarowicz & arms ache avid aeon: fierce pussy amplified (Nancy Brooks Brody, Joy Episalla, Zoe Leonard, Carrie Yamaoka, fierce pussy and Jo-ey Tang)
Curator : François Piron
Scientific advisor : Elisabeth Lebovici
Curatorial assistant : Clément Raveu
Exhibition assistant : Rose Vidal
The second chapter of the exhibition, “Pausing” by Jimmy Robert, takes place at the Centre national de la danse and also offers a program of shows, performances and talks. For more information : cnd.fr The exhibition is extended with a publication co-edited by the Palais de Tokyo and Fonds Mercator.
The second chapter of the exhibition, “Pausing” by Jimmy Robert, takes place at the Centre national de la danse and also offers a program of shows, performances and talks. For more information : cnd.fr
The exhibition is extended with a publication co-edited by the Palais de Tokyo and Fonds Mercator.