Home Video: Media Art in Response to HIV/AIDS

Home Video: Media Art in Response to HIV/AIDS

Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI) is pleased to partner with the Museum of the City of New York to co-present Home Video: Media Art in Response to HIV/AIDS, a screening and discussion of three videos that reveal how activists and artists documented and reshaped everyday responses to HIV/AIDS in the 1980s and ‘90s. The program, which includes works by WAVE (Women’s AIDS Video Enterprise), George Kuchar, and Charlie Ahearn, is organized in conjunction with the exhibition AIDS at Home: Art and Everyday Activism, now on view at the Museum of the City of New York.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI)
535 West 22nd Street, 5th Fl.
New York, NY 10011

Free Admission

Alexandra Juhasz and Juanita Mohammed Szczepanski, members of video collective WAVE, will share an excerpt from We Care: A Video for Care Providers of People Affected by AIDS (1990), featured in AIDS at Home; Karl McCool of EAI will screen and discuss The Thursday People (1987), created by George Kuchar in memory of filmmaker Curt McDowell; and filmmaker and artist Charlie Ahearn will present his video portrait of painter Martin Wong (1992/1998). AIDS at Home curator Stephen Vider will moderate.

The three videos in the program engage the concept of “home video,” making use of consumer video technology and the aesthetics of the camcorder era to create works that explore the intersections of art, caretaking, family, and home. In The Thursday People, legendary film and videomaker George Kuchar elegizes, with characteristic candor and humor, his friend, lover, collaborator, and fellow underground cinema legend, filmmaker Curt McDowell. In the weeks after his death from AIDS-related illnesses, McDowell is recalled by friends and family at a weekly gathering, in what had been his Mission District home, called the “Soiree.” Charlie Ahearn offers his own intimate video portrait, documenting artist Martin Wong in his Lower East Side apartment. Ahearn provides a view of the artist “at home” — not only in his apartment and studio, but in the neighborhoods of the Lower East Side and Chinatown, which Wong rendered indelibly in his paintings. We Care was collectively produced by WAVE, a remarkable “video support group” sponsored by the Brooklyn AIDS Task Force and arts funding organizations. The video, which includes intimate conversations with caregivers and people living with AIDS, represents the result of six months of meetings among seven women exploring HIV/AIDS and video. As Catherine Saalfield writes, “The result is a rich grassroots effort which documents many challenges that AIDS present to care-givers and which rebukes many common myths about HIV/AIDS.” These works continue to resonate today whether by challenging still-held misconceptions of living with HIV/AIDS or offering a view of artmaking in a less gentrified New York and San Francisco.

Running until October 24th, 2017 at the Museum of the City of New York, AIDS at Home: Art and Everyday Activism examines how artists and activists have responded to the HIV/AIDS crisis through the lens of caretaking, housing, and family, from the 1980s to the present.

The Thursday People, George Kuchar, 1987, 12:33 min
We Care, Women’s AIDS Video Enterprise, 1990, 12:34 min
Portrait of Martin Wong, Charlie Ahearn, 1992/1998, 17:59 min


Charlie Ahearn
Charlie Ahearn lives and works in New York City. Since the 1970s, Ahearn has documented street culture and the rise of hip hop in New York City, capturing the excitement and raw energy that infused the movement through photography, films, videos, and slideshows. His iconic film Wild Style (1983) is recognized as among the earliest feature films in hip hop history. In additional to his seminal films documenting B-Boy and hip hop culture, Ahearn made documentary shorts with artists such as Martin Wong, Kiki Smith, Jane Dickson, and his twin brother John Ahearn, and features such as Jamel Shabazz Street Photographer. His work has recently been screened and exhibited at The Walker Art Center, The Wexner Center, Museum Ludwig, and MOMA PS1. Most recently, P.P.O.W Gallery presented Ahearn’s solo exhibition Scratch Ecstasy.

Alexandra Juhasz
Alexandra Juhasz is Chair of the Film Department, Brooklyn College. Recently, as a Professor of Media Studies at Pitzer College (1995-2016), she was the director of the Munroe Center for Social Inquiry (2014-2016), and led the Mellon funded Digital Humanities. She has a Ph.D. in Cinema Studies from NYU and has taught courses at NYU, Swarthmore College, Bryn Mawr College, Claremont Graduate University, and Pitzer College, on YouTube, media archives, activist media, documentary, and feminist film. Juhasz has written multiple articles on feminist and AIDS documentary. Her current work is on online feminist pedagogy, YouTube, and other more radical uses of digital media. Juhasz produced the feature films The Owls and The Watermelon Woman, as well as nearly fifteen educational documentaries on feminist issues like teenage sexuality, AIDS, and sex education.

George Kuchar
George Kuchar, a legendary figure in New York’s underground film scene, also applied his wildly original sensibility to video. With his twin brother Mike, Kuchar produced a prodigious body of Super-8 and 16-mm films in the 1960s and 1970s — idiosyncratic narrative psychodramas and pop cultural parodies that are charged with perverse humor. In the mid-1980s, Kuchar acquired an 8-mm camcorder and began producing an extraordinary series of video diaries, chronicling a singular, ongoing personal history. Kuchar’s film and video works have been widely screened and exhibited internationally. He lived in San Francisco until his death in 2011.

Juanita Mohammed Szczepanski
Juanita Mohammed Szczepanski was part of the production of WAVE in 1989. She produced numerous video for Gay Men’s Health Crisis’ “Living With AIDS Show.” She was the mother of the House of Moshood, part of the ball community. She has spoken and volunteered at community group venues, LGBT community centers, public libraries, museums and schools. Since her retirement from New York City Human Resources as a HIV/AIDS caseworker, her production company Diversity Video Productions, run with her husband Henry Szczepanski, has produced videos on issues dealing with AIDS, homelessness, disability, and youth.

About EAI
Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI) is a nonprofit arts organization that fosters the creation, exhibition, distribution, and preservation of moving image art. A New York-based international resource for media art and artists, EAI holds a major collection of over 3,500 new and historical media artworks, from groundbreaking early video by pioneering figures of the 1960s to new digital projects by today's emerging artists. EAI works closely with artists, museums, schools and other venues worldwide to preserve and provide access to this significant archive. EAI services also include viewing access, educational initiatives, extensive online resources, technical facilities, and public programs such as artists' talks, screenings, and multi-media performances. EAI's Online Catalogue is a comprehensive resource on the artists and works in the EAI collection, and features expansive materials on media art's histories and current practices: www.eai.org


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This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.


EAI is pleased to partner with the Museum of the City of New York to co-present Home Video: Media Art in Response to HIV/AIDS, a screening and discussion of video work exploring the intersections of art, caretaking, and home. The program will run in conjunction with the exhibition AIDS at Home, now on view at MCNY. George Kuchar’s The Thursday People, a portrait of filmmaker Curt McDowell and those who loved him, will be screened along with a video portrait of artist Martin Wong by Charlie Ahearn and We Care: A Video for Care Providers of People Affected by collective WAVE (Women’s AIDS Video Enterprise).

Charlie Ahearn, WAVE members Alexandra Juhasz and Juanita Mohammed Szczepanski, and EAI's Karl McCool will appear for a discussion, moderated by AIDS at Home curator Stephen Vider.