Talk + Tour, Axis Mundo: Queer Networks in Chicano L.A.
205 Hudson Gallery
Axis Mundo: Queer Networks in Chicano L.A. is the first exhibition of its kind to excavate histories of experimental art practice, collaboration, and exchange by a group of Los Angeles based queer Chicanx artists between the late 1960s and early 1990s. To highlight the New York iteration of Axis Mundo, Visual AIDS and the Hunter College Art Galleries hosted a guided talk and tour with an intergenerational group of creatives who knew artists highlighted in the exhibition or have been influenced by the artworks included in the show.
The Talk + Tour of this landmark exhibition, curated by C. Ondine Chavoya and David Evans Frantz, centered the work of artists lost to AIDS-related complications with reflections by Simon Doonan on Mundo Meza (1955–1985) and Aldo Hernandez on Ray Navarro (1964–1990). To explore the intersections of art, AIDS and activism in the exhibition, the tour also included comments by J. Soto on Judy Miranda, Lauren Argentina Zelaya on Laura Aguilar (1959–2018) & Judith F. Baca and Alexandro Segade on Joey Terrill.
As noted in the AIDS Activism(s) section of the exhibition: “The devastation of the AIDS epidemic was acutely felt by intersecting Latinx and queer artist communities. In the face of government neglect, many artists politicized their practices, often taking inspiration from their earlier participation in gay and lesbian and Chicano rights movements. Working within community and advocacy groups, artists sought to raise awareness and educate through quickly produced and accessible mediums such as video and print material. Many artists memorialized those lost to the disease, while others took up their own mortality and disability as content for their work through abstraction and conceptual distance.”
Axis Mundo: Queer Networks in Chicano L.A. was first presented last fall at the ONE Gallery, West Hollywood, and MOCA Pacific Design Center for Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, and the traveling exhibition tour is organized by Independent Curators International (ICI).
Simon Doonan is a writer, bon-vivant, window dresser extraordinaire and fashion commentator who has worked in fashion for over 35 years. Simon has won many awards for his groundbreaking and unconventional window displays, including the CFDA Award. In 2009, he was invited by President and Ms. Obama to decorate the White House for the Holidays. Doonan describes his relationship with Mundo Meza: “I met Mundo in 1979. We became boyfriends for a couple of years, after which we remained close pals. We were also creative collaborators, working together on various window displays and videos.”
Cuban-American Aldo Hernández and Chicano Ray Navarro both honed their commitments to society through artistic projects in California and then re-located to NYC. Hernández landed jobs with MoMA and Creative Time, and while visiting LA in 1988 was introduced to Navarro at latin gay party Vasilon through a mutual friend from MoCA where Navarro worked. That June, Navarro moved to NY where they became close friends, AIDS activists, and Art+Positive collaborators until Navarro’s death in November 1990. During that summer, Hernández had begun DJing at the Clit Club & MEAT, where he melded a passion for the groove with graphics and photography as he dove into a life long calling of the sonic & visual. It was an urgent vital time in both their lives that remains powerfully conveyed through Navarro’s incisive art & writings focused on young queers of color.
Alexandro Segade is an interdisciplinary artist whose multimedia science fiction performances exploring queer futurity have been presented at the Broad Museum, REDCAT and LAXART, LA; Yerba Buena Center, San Francisco; Time-Based Arts Festival, Portland, Oregon; Movement Research/Judson Church, Park Avenue Armory, NYC, and Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, Bard College, NY. Since 2001, Segade has worked in the collective My Barbarian on exhibitions, videos and performance projects at venues including the New Museum, MoMA, The Kitchen, Participant Inc., NY; Museo El Eco, Mexico City; the Hammer Museum, LACMA, MoCA, Susanne Vielmetter Gallery, LA; the 2014 Whitney Biennial, Performa 05 and 07. Segade’s recent writing has been published in Yale’s Theater Journal and artforum.com, and he is cohost of the podcast Super Gay!
J. Soto is a queer brown transgender interdisciplinary artist, writer, and arts organizer. His collaborative writing project, "Ya Presente Ayer" can be found in Support Networks, Chicago Social Practice History Series (University of Chicago Press). His recent writing can be found in Original Plumbing and Apogee Journal: Queer History, Queer Now Folio and American Realness 2018: Reading. A Chicano raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, J. is interested in sex as an embodied way of learning queer history, the impact of AIDS on queer communities of artists and feeling loss through a racialized lens and through the portrayal of sensual bodies in Axis Mundo.
Lauren Argentina Zelaya is a cultural producer, curator, and museum educator based in Brooklyn, NY. As Assistant Curator of Public Programs at Brooklyn Museum, Lauren curates and produces Target First Saturdays and other free and low-cost public programs that invite over 100,000 visitors a year to engage with special exhibitions and collections in new and unexpected ways. Lauren is committed to collaborating with emerging artists and centering voices in our communities that are often marginalized, with a focus on film and performance and creating programming for and with LGBTQ+, immigrant, and Caribbean communities. Recent projects she presented include Cuerpxs Radicales: Radical Bodies in Performance and Black Queer Brooklyn on Film. Known and respected equally for her nail art and her fierce commitment to bringing art and culture to the people, Lauren was named one of Brooklyn Magazine’s 30 Under 30 in 2018.