AIDS and Cultural Activism

Tuesday, August 30, 2016 (All day)

Panel during College Art Association Annual Conference, February 15-18th 2017, in New York City.

Chairs: Joe Madura, Emory University; Ryan Conrad, Concordia University.

The global spread of HIV/AIDS has directly affected the conventions of contemporary artistic practice. It likewise generates successive debates regarding the legibility and influence of art in times of crisis. Early critics identified two generations of artists responding to the epidemic: the first relied on personal reflection and narrative to give visibility to people with AIDS; the second, politicized generation—catalyzed by the emergence of AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) in 1987—seized forms of direct collective action. Despite structural changes including the dissolution of large-scale activism and improved medical regimens in the mid-1990s, this division has largely persisted in art historical scholarship. Select AIDS practices in the visual arts have become canonized over the past two decades, while artists continue to document and to interrogate living with HIV/AIDS now. The current surge in museum exhibitions, artistic production, and public discourse has reignited longstanding discussions about the personal and political stakes of cultural activism.

This panel solicits artist presentations and scholarship that integrate the history and continued lived reality of the AIDS crisis. Investigations of present day pressures that shape how we visualize and make meaning from the recent past; shifts in artistic strategies employed to analyze and to transform the epidemic; the efficacy of separating individual vs. collective and activist vs. memorial work; the affective range of cultural responses to medicine, sexuality, and kinship; and erasures and omissions inherent to the process of canonization are welcome, as are other relevant topics.

Submission Deadline: August 30th 2016

Submission Guidelines


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