Monday, May 16, 2016 from 6:30pm–9:30pm
Type of event:
Visual AIDS Event

VAVA VOOM honoring Gregg Bordowitz, Glenn Ligon and Jessica Whitbread

Prince George Ballroom
15 East 27th Street
New York, NY,
{event_images} {/event_images}


The 11th Annual Visual AIDS Vanguard Awards & Spring Gala



“Visual AIDS supports artists with HIV like me, who are survivors.I’m going to talk a little bit about what it means to be a survivor, largely because I’m trying to figure it out and usually it helps to do that in public, or at least, I have the perverse idea that it helps to do that in public. Many or most of us are survivors, [but] I’m talking specifically about surviving HIV. Many of us have survived many, too many things to list here, but most of you know what I’m talking about-- when in the periphery of your vision, you see someone somewhat familiar, or you hear that laugh behind you, and you turn and you think its somebody who hasn’t been around for like, twenty or thirty years-- that happens to me all the time, and that kind of experience doesn’t go away. There is a tremendous amount of pleasure in being alive, still being alive, still being sensitive, and being able to touch the world and have the world touch you: but as I talked about before, there’s also a kind of inconceivable and perpetual pain involved, even in this, I’m sorry to admit. I’m grateful, I’m really grateful: to all of you and especially to Visual AIDS, and to many of you in the room who I love dearly. But there’s so many people, too many to mention, who I wish were here tonight, and I think its always going to be that way.” - GB


“Recently, I heard a discussion with Claudia Rankine talking about her book “Citizen”, and she said, commenting on the spectacle of black bodies lying in the street after police killings, “If the condition of black lives is a condition of mourning, how do we get that grief to become a national grief, and not one only held in the black body?” And when I think about Claudia’s statement, I think about it in relationship to the work that Visual AIDS has done, and I realize that Visual AIDS has always been about turning a community’s grief into a national grief, with programs like Day Without Art, The Artists + Registry and Archive, the discussion of Duets that Steven and Gregg did, and monographs on Hugh Steers and Robert Blanchon. Visual AIDS has helped turn grief and memorializing in our communities into national grief and memorializing. It’s helped make anger in our communities into a national anger, and it’s turned activism that started in our communities into a nationwide activism. So Visual AIDS started in response to a crisis, and I think your presence here is a testament to the work it’s done for many decades, and the work it’ll continue to do.” - GL


“Love Positive Women was just this crazy idea that I had. I was like, “You know what? We need a holiday.” So then, it just kind of happened. And it’s kind of amazing, because last year, one hundred and forty organizations and groups participated around the world, including The WHO, The International AIDS Society, and a lot of other people: The Global Network of Sex Worker Projects. And Visual AIDS-- because we talked about the national work that happens-- was always very supportive of Love Positive Women. Two years ago we started -- in partnership with fire island and other folks—to work with artists and women living with HIV in NYC to make a lot of Positive Women cards and send them to women living with HIV all around the world. The first year, there was 150 and we couldn’t even make that many. Because it was such an amazing idea, people started to replicate, and this year different groups picked it up and there was over a thousand that were sent out, which is really incredible. And they went, but there’s all these other things: like there was a group of gay men in Australia who were asking Pos women out on dates. There was a woman in Malaysia, she took the children of women living with HIV in prisons to go and visit them, for love positive women. And you know this happens-- these cards went to Turkmenistan, Lebanon, Uzbekistan, China, Philippines, the US-- so the reach that Visual AIDS has been having is enormous." - JW

Presenters: Stephen Andrews and Kia Labeija


Hosts & DJs AndrewAndrew

Performances by:

Ana Matronic and Martha Wash





The Visual AIDS Vanguard Awards (VAVA) recognize the contributions of individuals who reinforce the mission of Visual AIDS by strengthening the cultural history of art activism and AIDS advocacy.

For more images and to read about the evening's celebration, visit our blog here



Event photos (above) by Steven Rosen Photography

Additional photos by Photomatonchic



Visual AIDS utilizes art to fight AIDS by provoking dialogue, supporting HIV+ artists and preserving a legacy, because AIDS is not over.


Founded in 1988, Visual AIDS is the only contemporary arts organization fully committed to raising AIDS awareness and creating dialogue around HIV issues today, by producing and presenting visual art projects, exhibitions, public forums and publications - while assisting artists living with HIV/AIDS. We are committed to preserving and honoring the work of artists with HIV/AIDS and the artistic contributions of the AIDS movement.


The Visual AIDS Vanguard Awards (VAVA) recognize the achievements and contributions of artists, activists and AIDS advocates who strengthen our culture and reinforce the mission of Visual AIDS.


Gregg Bordowitz is a writer, artist, and teacher. His books include DUETS: Stephen Andrews & Gregg Bordowitz In Conversation (Visual AIDS, 2014), General Idea: Imagevirus (Afterall Books, 2010), Volition (Printed Matter, 2009), and The AIDS Crisis Is Ridiculous and Other Writings 1986-2003 (MIT Press, 2004). He has performed his poems and improvisational lectures at such international venues as the Poetry Project (New York), The Whitney Museum (New York), Iceberg Projects (Chicago), If I Can’t Dance (Amsterdam), and Tate Modern (London). Bordowitz wrote and directed the opera The History of Sexuality Volume One By Michel Foucault: An Opera, performed at Tanzquartier in Vienna. His films, including Fast Trip Long Drop (1993) and Habit (2001) have been widely shown internationally. These films are autobiographical accounts of living with HIV that documented AIDS activism. As an activist, Bordowitz was a member of ACT UP New York who contributed to the organization of the non-violent takeover of the FDA in 1988 and clean needle exchange in 1991— among many other acts of civil disobedience. Bordowitz is currently the Director of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Low Residency MFA Program.

Glenn Ligon lives and works in New York. He received a Bachelor of Arts from Wesleyan University in 1982, and attended the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program in 1985. A mid-career retrospective of Ligon’s work, Glenn Ligon: America, organized by Scott Rothkopf, opened at the Whitney Museum of American Art in March 2011 and traveled nationally. Ligon has also been the subject of solo museum exhibitions at the Camden Arts Centre in London, the Power Plant in Toronto, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, and the Studio Museum in Harlem, among others. He participated in All the World’s Futures at the 56th Venice Biennale (2015), and he curated the group exhibition Glenn Ligon: Encounters and Collisions (2015) with Nottingham Contemporary and Tate Liverpool. His awards and honors include a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship and the Studio Museum’s Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize. His work is in the collections of the Tate Modern, London; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Art Institute of Chicago; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

As a queer woman living with HIV, Jessica Whitbread explores her own sexuality and curiosity, often in public places, in hopes of making it easier for others to do the same. Jessica has a Masters from York University in Building Communities to Ignite Social Change.She works in the realm of social practice and community art, often merging art and activism to engage a diversity of audiences in critical dialogue.Her ongoing projects include LOVE POSITIVE WOMEN: Romance Starts at Home, No Pants No Problem, Tea Time, and PosterVIRUS (AIDS ACTION NOW!). Whitbread is currently the Global Community Relations & Mobilization Manager for the International Community of Women Living with HIV (ICW), a board member of the Canadian HIV Legal Network, a member of the Steering Committee for AIDS ACTION NOW!, and a Visual AIDS Artist Member.



Martha Wash has a voice that’s made millions dance. She is a two-time Grammy nominated American R&B, pop, soul, and house singer, record producer, songwriter, activist and music industry executive with a career spanning over thirty years. As one-half of the duo Two Tons O’ Fun – later the Weather Girls – she sang with the legendary Sylvester and recorded the enduring multi-platinum hit “It’s Raining Men.” Wash quickly rose to become the Queen of Clubland, with 13 songs peaking at Number One on the Billboard Dance charts. In the 1990s she spurred legislation that made vocal credits mandatory on CDs and music videos after being denied proper credit (and royalties) for C+C Music Factory’s anthem “Gonna Make You Sweat.” During this era Wash was the Midas of dance music, with eight songs featuring her vocals reaching Number One on the international club charts. Wash remains active as a touring and recording artist, and in 2015, she produced and collaborated with disco vocalists Evelyn "Champagne" King and Linda Clifford on the Top 10 Billboard dance single "Show Some Love", released on Martha’s own label Purple Rose Records.


Ana Matronic is an artist, musician, author, dj, radio & television presenter and public speaker best known as the lone female member of rock group Scissor Sisters. Equally at home stalking atop a dirty, dingy bar as she is hosting heady Weimar-inspired cabaret, inciting record-breaking Hyde Park crowds to roar with delight, or waxing poetic on the wonders of disco to a worldwide listenership, Matronic has honed her reputation as a formidable onstage presence and sharp-witted emcee since cutting her onstage teeth at San Francisco’s legendary drag night Trannyshack in the late 90s. Since her award-winning rise with Scissor Sisters in 2004, Ana has collaborated with such legendary artists as Elton John, New Order, Duran Duran and Mark Ronson, Sean Dixon of the Soup Dragons, Bright Light Bright Light, and RuPaul’s Drag Race winner Sharon Needles. She is currently working on her debut solo record.


AndrewAndrew is a New York-based creativity team working behind the scenes and in front of large crowds since 1999. Whether djing parties, designing fashion and home decor, reviewing theatre and restaurants, or consulting with one of their many clients.  AndrewAndrew challenge pre-conceptions with their unique perspective and unexpected methods.

Art Auction:

Artworks by Bill Adams • Ricci Albenda • Lucky Debellevue • Liz Deschenes • Zackary Drucker & Amos Mac • Glen Fogel • Eve Fowler • Marley Freeman • Tom Friedman • Wayne Gonzales • Sam Gordon • Larry Krone • Cary Leibowitz • Glenn Ligon • Matt Lipps • Yeni Mao • Keith Mayerson • Wardell Milan • Carlos Motta • My Barbarian • Jeanine Oleson • Alix Pearlstein • Kembra Pfahler • Jacob Robichaux • A.L. Steiner • Marc Swanson & Joe Mama-Nitzberg • Barbara Westermann • Jessica Whitbread & Morgan M. Page • Zarina.  Auction Chairs: Lucas Michael and Lauren Wittels.   Auction Powered by Paddle8


Custom Polaroid Portrait by Lucas Michael - Value $2,500

Custom Four Letter Word Neon by Lite Brite - Value $2,000

Custom Engraved Rings by Lost Wax Studios - Value $530

Private Tarot Card Reading by Nayland Blake - Priceless