June 5–June 29, 2014
Type of event:
Visual AIDS Event

Ephemera As Evidence

La MaMa Galleria
6 Est 1st Street
New York, NY,
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Ephemera As Evidence, curated by Joshua Lubin-Levy & Ricardo Montez for Visual AIDS, featuring D-L Alvarez, Nao Bustamante, Vincent Chevalier, Clit Club Archive, Rosson Crow, Luke Dowd, Chloe Dzubilo, Benjamin Fredrickson, Tony Just, Kiki & Herb (Justin Vivian Bond & Kenny Mellman), Kia Labeija, Nancer LeMoins, Charles Long, Kevin McCarty, Eric Rhein, Michael Slocum, Jack Smith, Hugh Steers, Carmelita Tropicana, Conrad Ventur, Jack Waters & Peter Cramer, James Wentzy and Jessica Whitbread & Anthea Black.  


June 5 - 29, 2014

Opening Reception: Thursday, June 5, 6-9 PM

w/ performance by Nao Bustamante & Jason Martin

Taking its title from a 1996 essay written by José Esteban Muñoz (1967-2013), Ephemera as Evidence brings together visual art, performance, and pedagogical projects that evidence past lives and future possibilities in the work of artists confronting HIV/AIDS. Thinking through the ephemeral as necessary to the political life of HIV, the exhibition acknowledges a larger history of silence and erasure while at the same time making salient strategies for survival and worldmaking potentials in the face of a violently phobic public sphere. Yet, to consider ephemera in the social and cultural life of HIV/AIDS today is to consider both the burden and blessing of continued life. Within our contemporary moment the question is not merely one of survival but of how survival reverberates beyond the immediacy of a crisis. The works in this show ask us to consider how changing demographics of those affected by HIV/AIDS and the resulting reorientations to crisis force new kinds of temporalities in an engagement with both the past and the future.

Ephemera As Evidence was organized according to three distinct yet interrelated modes of worldmaking—performance, intimacy, and pedagogy. The ephemeral projects collected and staged throughout the run of the show indexed loss and longing central to queer worlds and social formations. They helped to challenge notions of inauthenticity often associated with the ephemeral, not merely using traces to reconstruct a past but also to imagine pasts or futures both longed for and lost, finding new ways to tell untold stories. We presented opportunities for visitors to visually and somatically engage with the art works and had constructed an explicitly performative experience in which ephemeral elements reinforce the materiality of the exhibition space as an ever-shifting environment, continually reconstituted in relation to each body that passes through it. Showcasing moments of live performance, evidence of its potential and absence, and student encounters in the archive, the exhibit explored powerful modes of learning that arise in the apprehension of slippery and contingent realities. 

Catalog availablE at Gallery - ONLINE CATALOG AVAILABLE HERE

Related materials:

  • Shane Vogel, who loaned ephemera to the exhibition, shares audio files, scanned articles, and images on the Kiki & Herb Fan Archive tumblr page, dedicated to the work of Kiki & Herb (Justin Vivian Bond and Kenny Mellman).

  • Azizi Curtis and Sade Swift create the short video, Splattered Mementos, in conjunction with the exhibition featuring a poem they wrote after being inspired by artists Peter Cramer and Jack Waters.

  • In working with artist James Wentzy for the exhibition, Guy Greenburg spent a lot of time with Wentzy and his archive. His Evita Like Coffin tumblr page reflects his experiences.

  • Visual AIDS makes available the poem We Didn't Talk About This by award winning poet Thomas Devaney based on a conversation between Ted Kerr and Ephemera As Evidence artist Charles Long.