August 3–September 23, 2017
  • ClampArt
  • 247 West 29th Street, Ground Floor
  • New York, NY, 10001

Screaming in the Streets: AIDS, Art, Activism

247 West 29th Street, Ground Floor
New York, NY, 10001
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Mark Morrisroe (1959-1989), Untitled (Self-Portrait on Bed), c. 1983-6, Gelatin silver print from Polaroid T-665 negative, 3.25 x 4.25 inches. © Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur.


Opening Reception: Thursday, August 3, 2017 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.

Curated by Greg Ellis

"There is a tendency for people affected by this epidemic to police each other or prescribe what the most important gestures would be for dealing with this experience of loss. I resent that. At the same time, I worry that friends will slowly become professional pallbearers, waiting for each death, of their lovers, friends and neighbors, and polishing their funeral speeches; perfecting their rituals of death rather than a relatively simple ritual of life such as screaming in the streets."
—David Wojnarowicz

"The growing consciousness is a danger and a disease."

ClampArt and Ward 5B present "Screaming in the Streets: AIDS, Art, Activism." The exhibition celebrates the launch of Ward 5B, a new archival and curatorial service.

By 1995 at the height of the epidemic in the United States there were an estimated 48,371 annual AIDS-related deaths. The story of the artistic and activist responses to this medical crisis were marked by intergenerational, communal, as well as individual associations. The AIDS epidemic provided a startling glimpse into the strange connections between the most private of our lives and the most public.

Linked in this way within the context of the exhibition are Kenny Burgess, Peter Hujar, Haoui Montaug, Essex Hemphill, David Wojnarowicz, Dorian Corey, Mark Morrisroe, Assotto Saint, Arthur Russell, Gordon Stevenson, Keith Haring, Reinaldo Arenas, Ethyl Eichelberger, Jimmy De SanaJack Smith, Gail Thacker, Gran Fury, Nan Goldin, and Tseng Kwong Chi

Additionally, radical spaces such as the Pyramid Club, PS 122, Danceteria, boybar, s.n.a.f.u., Crisco Disco, Gaiety Theatre, The Club Baths, and other venues became contradictory under the lash of AIDS, serving not only as "safe zones" for the queer community, but also grounds where contact among individuals would propel the spread of this deadly new contagion.

Amidst this unique cauldron of creativity, community, and disease sprang a generation of AIDS activists connected by art, while rooted in the historically radical politics and culture of New York City. The response to the epidemic brought about a clash of ideologies among the actors involved, both philosophical and economic, that is reflected in the artwork and ephemera of the era.

There were many villains and heroes throughout the early years of the epidemic, from the criminal prejudice of the Reagan administration to the epic struggle with the creation of safe sex. "Screaming in the Streets: AIDS, Art, Activism" focuses on the meaning of radical spaces for sexual minorities and reflects upon a generation of lost artists, while illustrating the interconnectedness and collaborative working relationships among them.

ClampArt represents a wide range of emerging and mid-career artists of all media with a specialization in photography. In addition, the gallery carries a large selection of modern and contemporary paintings, prints, and photographs from the early 20th century to the present.

Ward 5B is an archival and curatorial service specializing in late 20th-century urban ephemera and art, with a focus on punk aesthetic, radical spaces, performance art, drag, experimental theatre, camp, queercore, and guerrilla/street art projects.