In 1989, in response to the worsening AIDS crisis and coinciding with the World Health Organization’s second annual World AIDS Day on December 1, Visual AIDS organized the first Day Without Art. A Visual AIDS committee of art workers (curators, writers, and art professionals) sent out a call for “mourning and action in response to the AIDS crisis” that would celebrate the lives and achievements of lost colleagues and friends; encourage caring for all people with AIDS; educating diverse publics about HIV infection; and finding a cure. More than 800 arts organizations, museums and galleries throughout the U.S. participated by shrouding artworks and replacing them with information about HIV and safer sex, locking their doors or dimming their lights, and producing exhibitions, programs, readings, memorials, rituals, and performances.
Over the years, people were educated, medical advancements were made, less artists and friends died, and artwork called out to be unshrouded. But World AIDS Day remains and is still observed on December 1 every year.
The Contemporary Austin is screening a program of newly commissioned short artist videos, entitled ALTERNATE ENDINGS, RADICAL BEGINNINGS, on its rooftop, with a reception this evening at 6pm and films beginning at 7pm. The film program prioritizes black narratives within the ongoing AIDS epidemic, highlighting marginalized voices in black communities, including queer and trans voices. There will be remarks by Xavier Livermon, PhD, University of California, Berkeley, Assistant Professor of African and African Diaspora Studies, The University of Texas at Austin.
According to Visual AIDS, the program will also take place at the following Texas venues: Blanton Museum of Art, Fort Worth Contemporary Arts, and SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts. Check with the museums for specifics.