Visual AIDS is excited to announce our new Programs & Artist+ Registry Associate, Orlando Tirado. Orlando brings with him a creative range of work with artists and will support collaborations with program partners and Artist+ members. Please help us welcome Orlando to Visual AIDS—stop by the Visual AIDS office to say hello or drop him a line at: [email protected]
I am thrilled to lend my energy to an organization that has consistently provided lifelines to the poz community. The work of Visual AIDS has also been crucial and instrumental in preserving queer history. I hope that our collective efforts as a new staff will highlight the rigorous work of HIV-positive artists and activists to create context for our work.
My goal is to create coalitions across cultural difference by being an ally and a link between many individuals and entities. As Programs & Artist+ Registry Associate, I look forward to building programs that reach broad audiences, engage pressing questions in unique and rigorous ways, and are part of an ongoing, honest conversation. As an exacting archivist, I am excited to preserve this impressive archive, work with estates to process new material, and correspond with our Artist+ Members consistently. I want to include new voices and new visions from more poz people of color, particularly from the Latinx community, into our Visual AIDS archive—a challenge given the stigma that silences and puts our communities at increasing risk.
After the initial shock of the Pulse shooting in Orlando, the urgency to speak out against hate, homophobia, and HIV-stigma propelled me to position myself on the front lines, readily speaking at rallies, vigils, and protests. I spent the last few years doing work to hold and maintain queer space, beginning with formal curatorial projects in galleries, then at the Dreamhouse/ the Spectrum (a collective DIY, artist-run space and nightlife venue); at Arts in the Woods (a camp for homeless trans- and gender-non-conforming people), as well as participating in readings and performances in artist-run spaces, at Le Petit Versailles, and various bars and after-parties. This type of multi-faceted community building showed me the power of shared space and the responsibility we have to maintain and foster collectives. These spaces—both physical and immaterial—are oftentimes how we access information, organize, and resist. At a moment in which the queer community needs to be in good health, I urge my contemporaries to take care of themselves and one another, especially those struggling on the margins and my QPoC brothers and sisters. We need to be present in every way possible right now, and strong enough to fight for our rights in numbers, using many different strategies.
In addition to these ongoing projects, I also write and make films. My second feature, part of an ongoing collaboration with Italian director Andrea Pallaoro, is titled Hannah and will premiere in competition in this year’s 74th Venice Film Festival. Our next film, Monica, in pre-production, will feature a trans lead actress. Other screenplays include two adaptations, both dealing explicitly with HIV/AIDS and pandemics: To the Wedding, based upon the novel by the late John Berger and Salon de Belleza, based upon the novella by Mario Bellatin. My films, like my community-building endeavors, demonstrate new ways of being through shared experience.
It is a privilege to be part of Visual AIDS and be part of this story.