Saturday, June 16, 2018 from 3:00pm–5:00pm
Price: Free
Type of event:
Visual AIDS Event
  • La MaMa Galleria
  • 47 Great Jones Street
  • New York, NY, 10012

Cell Count Closing Event: Artist & Curator Tour

La MaMa Galleria
47 Great Jones Street
New York, NY, 10012
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In celebration the culmination of Cell Count, curators Kyle Croft and Asher Mones led a tour of the exhibition with artists M. LamarAlexander McClelland, Dr. Muhjah Shakir, and Chris E. Vargas.

Cell Count brings together artists who unpack the metaphors and assumptions that enable the punishment and incarceration of people living with HIV, presenting nuanced analyses and conceptual refigurings as well as sardonic humor and imaginative revisions. The exhibition reframes conversations around HIV criminalization, questioning the characterization of HIV as a weapon, the conflation of serostatus with guilt, and the framing of non-disclosure as harm. Placing HIV criminalization in a broader context, the exhibition suggests that these laws echo a long history of medically sanctioned violence and incarceration in the United States. Drawing together nineteenth century experiments on enslaved women, the medicalization of homosexuality, and coercive public health practices with the emergence of HIV-specific criminal statutes, Cell Count asks us to consider how medical institutions have been complicit with systems of surveillance and incarceration.

Curator Bios

Kyle Croft is the Programs Assistant and Day With(out) Art Project Manager at Visual AIDS and a Curatorial Project Assistant at the Whitney Museum of American Art. He is a graduate student in Art History at Hunter College, where he researches the role of visibility and imperceptibility as political tactics during the 1980s and 1990s. He has assisted with exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the New Museum, and the MIX Queer Experimental Film Festival.

Asher Mones is the Special Events Coordinator for Development at Housing Works, where he works with a community of people fighting to end the dual crises of AIDS and homelessness. He holds a BFA from the Cooper Union School of Art (2015) and has assisted with curatorial projects at P!, Project Projects, Locust Projects, and Visual AIDS, in addition to developing his own video and sculpture practice.

Artist Bios

M. Lamar is a composer who works across opera, metal, performance, video, sculpture and installation to craft sprawling narratives of radical longing loss and becoming. Lamar holds a BFA from The San Francisco Art Institute and attended the Sculpture program at the Yale School of Art before dropping out to pursue music. Lamar’s work has been presented internationally, most recently at The Meet Factory, Prague; The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Participant Inc; National Sawdust; The Kitchen; MoMA PS1’s Greater New York; Merkin Hall; Issue Project Room; The Walter and McBean Galleries, San Francisco; and Human Resources, Los Angeles. Mr. Lamar is a recipient of a 2016 Jerome Fund Grant for New Music, a 2016 NYFA Fellowship in Music and Sound, The Rema Hort Mann Foundation (2015), Harpo Foundation (2014–2015), and Franklin Furnace Fund (2013–14).

Alexander McClelland is a Canadian-based writer and researcher who is currently working on a doctorate at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Society and Culture at Concordia University in Montreal. He has been living with HIV for 20 years. His work focuses on the intersections of life, law, and disease. He has developed a range of collaborative and interdisciplinary writing, academic, artistic, and curatorial projects to address issues of criminalization, sexual autonomy, surveillance, drug liberation, and the construction of knowledge on HIV and AIDS. His doctoral work examines the lives of people who have been criminally charged and/or prosecuted in relation to not disclosing their HIV-positive status to sex partners in Canada. His work has been supported through a range of awards, including the Concordia Public Scholars program fellowship, Canadian Institutes of Health Research Doctoral HIV/AIDS Community-Based Research Award, and the Institute for Anarchist Studies Grant for Radical Writers. McClelland is a steering committee member of AIDS ACTION NOW! and part of the Canadian Coalition to Reform HIV Criminalization. 

Dr. Muhjah Shakir is the founding president and CEO of Nature’s Garden for Victory and Peace, Inc., a non-profit 25 acre Community Land Trust located in Tuskegee, Alabama. Professor Shakir is the founder and project director of Women’s Narratives Transforming the Legacy: The Syphilis Study and created Tuskegee Bioethics Community Quilt Project as a result of her affiliation with the Tuskegee University National Center for Bioethics in Research and Health Care. The project has stimulated community dialogue and helped to heal old wounds by making it possible to speak the unspeakable. In 2011, Professor Shakir founded The Black Belt Deliberative Dialogue Group on the campus of Tuskegee University. The organization prides itself in being a community-campus partnership whose aim is to promote civic engagement and positive change using deliberative dialogue. Muhjah Shakir has a BS degree in Occupational Therapy from Western Michigan University; a MA degree in Cultural Anthropology, and a PhD degree In Transformative Studies, both from the California Institute of Integral Studies. As a holistic health practitioner, Dr. Shakir is a certified massage therapist and Reiki master. In May 2016, Dr. Shakir retired after nearly sixteen years of teaching as a full time professor of Occupational Therapy at Tuskegee University.

Chris E. Vargas is a video maker and interdisciplinary artist originally from Los Angeles, CA, currently based in Bellingham, WA. His work deploys humor and performance in conjunction with mainstream idioms to explore the complex ways that queer and trans people negotiate spaces for themselves within historical and institutional memory and popular culture. From 2008–13, Vargas collaborated with Greg Youmans to make the web-based trans/cisgender sitcom Falling In Love ... with Chris and Greg. He also co-directed with Eric Stanley the movie Homotopia (2006) and its feature-length sequel Criminal Queers (2015). He is the Executive Director of MOTHA, the Museum of Transgender Hirstory & Art, a conceptual arts and hirstory institution highlighting the contributions of trans art to the cultural and political landscape.