Two Bay Area artists, J. Fritz-Michael and Eric Stanley, have created a couple of socially relevant works to bring attention to the HIV/AIDS crisis. And yes, it's still a crisis, people!
The country's biggest AIDS health nonprofit, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (you might know its Out of the Closet thrift stores), has called California Gov. Jerry Brown's budget cuts a "death warrant for AIDS patients." Specifically, low-income patients in California who rely on low-cost or free care and drugs. Like, to live. Meanwhile, the just-released May revision of the state budget calls for an increase in prison spending.
Their work is called Necrocapital: AIDS in the Age of Surplus Value - literally, a chandelier made from hundreds of pill bottles - and will hang in the highly visible window of Artists' Television Access in San Francisco's Mission District from now through June.
I live in the area and pass by Necrocapital often, and it's a total conversation-sparker - something any decent piece of political art should be. I've overheard some observers trying to guesstimate the number of bottles used in the piece's construction, but more typically the comments focus on the issue at hand.
In conjunction with a solo show currently hanging at an Oakland exhibition space, J. Fritz-Michael has also made a series of T-shirts, sweaters, and other fabric pieces, silk-screened in a stark, sans serif font, with the message "PEOPLE HAVE AIDS." You can contact the artist to get one for yourself.
On May 26 the artists (who happen to be friends of mine) and a few filmmakers (including Mike Kuchar, whose trashy film shorts from the '60s John Waters calls "my first inspiration") are having an event to talk about Necrocapital and show five short movies that take a lighter route to addressing a weighty issue.
In Matt Wolf's Smalltown Boys, queer artist David Wojnarowicz enters a relationship with a made-up teenage lesbian from NYC's Upper West Side.
Mike Kuchar, who also influenced big-name directors like Atom Egoyan and Todd Haynes (featured in a documentary on Mike and his brother, called It Came From Kuchar), will show two of his oldies-but-goodies and premiere a new one, The Stone Boy.
Chris Vargas' new film Liberaceón reimagines Liberace - the flaming yet closeted pianist who died from AIDS - as a radical AIDS/HIV activist. (My interview with him was published on Bilerico last week.)
Eric Stanley is currently touring with his (and Chris Vargas's) experimental film Criminal Queers; J. Fritz-Michael has a solo show at a new exhibition space in Oakland (As Is Exhibitions), and another one coming up in August in NYC.