Sunday, October 14, 2018 from 2:00pm–6:30pm
Price: Free
Type of event:
Visual AIDS Recommends

“How We Do Illness” Symposium

Triple Canopy
264 Canal Street, 3W
New York, NY, 10013
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Carolyn Lazard, from In Sickness and Study, 2015–present, digital photography series (site-specific installation on Instagram), dimensions variable.


How We Do Illness is a two-part symposium organized by Triple Canopy that considers how personal narratives shape public perceptions of sickness, and how cultural workers and institutions contribute to the ongoing response to HIV/AIDS. The title is borrowed from the writer Lisa Diedrich, who reminds us that “illness and how we do illness is political.” The symposium is part of Risk Pool, a Triple Canopy issue that asks: how are sickness and wellness defined, and by whom? What are the effects of these definitions, these acts of naming and describing?

What Would an HIV-Informed Cultural Worker Do?
An open discussion led by Theodore Kerr of the collective What Would an HIV Doula Do?
2 p.m.–4 p.m.
Free admission, coffee and snacks provided

You Can Hear It In My Voice
Readings, a screening, and a conversation about illness narratives, with Carolyn Lazard, Lana Lin, and Beza Merid
5 p.m.–6:30 p.m.
$7 suggested donation


Theodore Kerr is a Canadian-born, Brooklyn-based writer, artist, and organizer whose work focuses primarily on HIV/AIDS. He is a founding member of What Would an HIV Doula Do? Kerr earned his MA from Union Theological Seminary where he researched Christian Ethics and HIV. He teaches at The New School.

Carolyn Lazard is a Philadelphia-based artist working across video, sound, sculpture, and performance. They have screened and exhibited work at Essex Street Gallery (New York City), Anthology Film Archives (New York City), the Kitchen (New York City), the New Museum (New York City), Wexner Center for the Arts (Ohio), Camden Art Centre (UK), Kunsthal Aarhus (Germany), and the Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam). They have published writing in the Brooklyn Rail and Mousse Magazine.

Lana Lin is an artist, filmmaker, and writer based in New York City. She is the author of Freud’s Jaw and Other Lost Objects: Fractured Subjectivity in the Face of Cancer (2017). She has made a number of films that fall into the capacious category of experimental, critical, and creative nonfiction, some of which are archived here. She collaborates on research-based multidisciplinary projects with H. Lan Thao Lam as Lin + Lam. She teaches in the school of media studies at the New School for Social Research.

Beza Merid is an LSA Collegiate Fellow in the department of communication studies and a faculty affiliate in the science, technology, and society program at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. Merid’s research examines how patients, caregivers, health institutions, and policy-makers communicate what it means to be a “responsible” patient. He is particularly interested in the role that illness narratives play in this communication, and in how these narratives are used in the context of health activism.

What Would an HIV Doula Do? is a collective of artists, activist, academics, chaplains, doulas, health-care practitioners, nurses, filmmakers, AIDS Service Organization employees, dancers, community educators, and others joined in response to the ongoing AIDS crisis. WWHIVDD? understands a doula as someone who holds space for others during times of transition. WWHIVDD? understands HIV as a series of transitions in someone’s life that does not begin with testing or diagnosis and does not end with treatment or death. Asking questions is foundational to the collective’s process.