AIDS & ITS METAPHORS: An Evening of Poetry and Prose Readings

ISSUE Project Room and Visual AIDS co-present an evening of readings at Artists Space Books & Talks from impassioned writers and artists Gregg Bordowitz, Timothy DuWhite, Pamela Sneed, Lynne Tillman, and Jessica Whitbread (of LOVE POSITIVE WOMEN: Romance Starts at Home). Readings of poetry and prose address topics related to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, including reflections on artists from the Visual AIDS Artist Registry and personal correspondence between those living with HIV.

AIDS & ITS METAPHORS is produced in conjunction with the inaugural publication of Visual AIDS' DUETS series, Stephen Andrews & Gregg Bordowitz in Conversation (2014), which features a conversation between Gregg Bordowitz and Visual AIDS Artist Member Stephen Andrews. DUETS is a series of publications that pairs artists, activists, writers, and thinkers in dialogues about their creative practices and current social issues around HIV/AIDS. In the first publication of the series, Gregg Bordowitz speaks to longtime friend Stephen Andrews about painting, poetry, cosmology, and survival. Lynne Tillman pens the publication's foreword.

Gregg Bordowitz is an artist and writer. His most recent book, General Idea: Imagevirus, was published by Afterall Books in 2010. A collection of his writings —titled The AIDS Crisis Is Ridiculous and Other Writings 1986-2003— was published by MIT Press in the fall of 2004. For this book, Bordowitz received the 2006 Frank Jewitt Mather Award from the College Art Association. His films, including Fast Trip Long Drop (1993), A Cloud In Trousers (1995), The Suicide (1996), and Habit (2001) have been widely shown in festivals, museums, movie theaters, and broadcast internationally. Professor Bordowitz is the Director for the School of the Art Institute of Chicago Low Residential MFA Program, and he is on the faculty of the Whitney Independent Study Program.

Lynne Tillman is a novelist, short-story writer, and critic. Her most recent book is WHAT WOULD LYNNE TILLMAN DO? her second essay collection. Tillman’s other novels are Haunted Houses (1987), Motion Sickness (1991), Cast in Doubt (1992), and No Lease on Life (1998), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in fiction and a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Recently, Tillman wrote the foreword to the Visual AIDS publication, Stephen Andrews & Gregg Bordowitz in Conversation (2014). Her essay on the work of Cindy Sherman will be included in the catalogue for the new Broad Museum ( Los Angeles) and an essay on the work of David Wojnarowicz will appear in a revised edition of his Brush Fires in the Social Landscape, to be published by Aperture. She is currently writing MEN AND APPARITIONS, her sixth novel

Timothy Duwhite, through mistakes, shortcomings, and failures, has been able to fashion himself a body of work that speaks directly to the value of transparency as well as self-accountability. As a spoken word artist Duwhite enlists his audience members in narratives spanning the pain of love, the insurmountable teeth of joy, the importance of forgiveness, the realities of living with a disease, the struggles of a man of color, the struggles of a queer man, the interconnections of the human experience, and every bit of beauty that can be found in the small and seemingly insignificant. Outside the spotlight and the stage, Duwhite frequently facilitates workshops in on poetry, fiction, HIV/AIDS awareness, the unpacking of masculinity, and the importance of the individual narrative.

Pamela Sneed is a New York based poet, performer, writer and actress whose work has been featured in the New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, The Source, Time Out, Bomb, Next, MetroSource, Blue, VIBE, HX, and on the cover of New York Magazine. "A six-foot-three-inch-tall black woman with a shaved head, a big smile, and a wily sense of humor, Sneed began making a name for herself in New York in the early nineties as a writer at poetry slams and other performance-art venues while teaching at Hetrick-Martin, an organization for gay, lesbian, and transgendered youth. There and elsewhere, Sneed gave voice to the fraction of the city’s population suffering from AIDS, poverty, and bias-related crimes." —Hilton Als, The New Yorker

Jessica Whitbread works in the realm of social practice and community art, often merging art and activism to engage a diversity of audiences in critical dialogue. Whitbread, a Visual AIDS Artist Member, often uses her own her own body and experience as a queer woman living with HIV, as the primary site of her work. In her head the entire world is a pantless tea party, full of awkward yet playful interactions that challenge hetero-normative and mainstream assumptions about bodies, sexuality and desire. Her ongoing projects include LOVE POSITIVE WOMEN: Romance Starts at Home, No Pants No Problem, Tea Time, and PosterVIRUS (AIDS ACTION NOW!). Whitbread is currently the Global Community Relations & Mobilization Manager for the International Community of Women Living with HIV (ICW), a board member of the Canadian HIV Legal Network and a Steering Committee Member for AIDS ACTION NOW!.

LOVE POSITIVE WOMEN: Romance Starts at Home! (LPW) is a project that uses social media to link local grassroots gestures of love. Using Valentines Day as a backdrop, LPW creates a platform for individuals and communities to engage in public and private acts of love and caring for women living with HIV. Going beyond romantic love to deep community love and social justice, LPW is a call to action. It requires participants to reflect on how they as either a woman living with HIV or an ally will commit to loving women living with HIV and then do it. Through action, change can be made to fueling economies of love and compassion. Working from a place of strength, LPW focuses on the idea of interconnectedness, relationship building, loving oneself and loving one’s community. By starting from a place of love, within oneself there are endless ways that the negative impacts that HIV has on women living with HIV can be lessened. While LPW is active primarily between February 1st-14th, its reminisce remains as a symbol of how the world can be different.