Activating the Archive Project
Fales Library & Special Collections
The Visual AIDS Archive Project and Artist+ Registry document the contributions of visual artists with HIV and ensures that their legacy is not lost to history.
The Archive Project was co-founded by painter Frank Moore and writer David Hirsh in 1994 to assist artists and document the visual artwork of HIV+ artists who were dying too quickly, too young, and without estate planning.
In 2012, the archive was re-launched online as the Artist+ Registry. Today, the Visual AIDS Archive Project and Artist+ Registry includes over 900 living artists and estates, and is the largest registry of works by visual artists with HIV and AIDS, with 25,600 slides and over 18,600 images online. This online database of digital images and Visual AIDS’ physical archive of 35mm slides, brochures, artists statements, catalogs, and other materials document the contributions of visual artists with HIV and ensures that their legacy is not lost to history—a central aspect of Visual AIDS’ mission.
Activating the Archive Project will revisit the inception of the Archive Project, discuss the continued significance of this open and inclusive archive and the changing needs of artists living with HIV, while also considering new directions and initiatives for the Archive Project and Artist+ Registry. Panelists will reflect on how the Archive has served as a social agent in building communities and a space for self-representation and collective care. Audience members will also have the opportunity to reflect on their experience with the Visual AIDS Archive Project and Artist+ Registry, and to collectively envision the project’s future.
Speakers and topics of discussion include:
David Hirsh on the founding of the Archive Project
Eric Rhein on The First 10 exhibition
Sur Rodney (Sur) on the Lightbox project and NOT OVER exhibition
Nelson Santos on digitizing the Archive Project and launching the online Artist+ Registry
Shirlene Cooper on building community through the Visual AIDS Artist+ Registry
This intergenerational panel will be moderated by Kyle Croft, Visual AIDS Programs Associate and Tracy Fenix, Visual AIDS Archive Project & Artist+ Registry Associate.
Activating the Archive Project takes place at the Fales Library & Special Collections, which now houses Visual AIDS’ organizational records.
Fales is located on the third floor of NYU's Bobst Library. Upon entering the building, pass through the security gate on the west side of the lobby.
Shirlene Cooper is a Visual AIDS Artist Member of five years. She has been inspired by her participation in the annual LOVE POSITIVE WOMEN papermaking workshops and her Women's Empowerment Art Therapy Workshop, which has brought together more than 25 women living with HIV and AIDS. View Shirlene's Artist+ Registry page here.
David Hirsh is a writer and co-founder of the Archive Project. In 1994, Frank Moore asked David if he would like to start an archive for slides by artists with AIDS and they decided to begin by forming a committee to initiate the Archive Project, which eventually became a part of Visual AIDS. David was elected Chairperson and subsequently asked to lead the project as Coordinator.
Eric Rhein is a Visual AIDS Artist Member whose work chronicles his experience and travels—both geographic and mystic—and his three decades of living with HIV. In 1994 he was invited to be part of the original group which envisioned and created the Archive Project. One of the initial ten artists documented by the Archive, his work was featured in Visual AIDS' The First 10 exhibition in 1995. He has exhibited internationally and is included in the Smithsonian Archives of American Art's "Visual Arts and the AIDS Epidemic: An Oral History Project.” View Eric's Artist+ Registry page here.
Sur Rodney (Sur) is a writer, curator and archivist. In the wake of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, his work with artists’ estates led him to serve on the board of Visual AIDS between 1995–2010 and help establish the Frank Moore Archive Project. He’s written for Visual AIDS’ DUETS monograph honoring Nicolas Moufarrege, and co-curated exhibitions for Visual AIDS, most notably Arts Communities/AIDS Communities: Realizing the Archive Project (1996); A Living Testament of the Blood Fairies (1997); and NOT OVER: 25 Year of Visual AIDS (2012).
Nelson Santos is an artist, curator, and former Executive Director at Visual AIDS. Starting at Visual AIDS in 2000, he managed the documentation and processing of the slide archive, and began the long process of digitizing the collection of The Archive Project. In 2012, The Archive Project was launched online as Visual AIDS’ Artist+ Registry—the largest registry of works by visual artists with HIV and AIDS.