featured gallery for August 2011
Looking through the Visual AIDS archive, it is difficult not to be affected by the overarching presence of loss, not only of those who have succumbed to the epidemic of HIV/AIDS, but to the cruel passing of time. We are reminded of the inevitability that arguably forms the human experience by defining its limitation.
Such is the nature of the work of Felix Gonzalez-Torres, whose pieces, such as "Untitled," eloquently vanish over time. As the audience literally takes from them, what is added to the lives of those who encounter the work takes a physically tangible form. Experiencing the work myself as an adolescent visitor of the Walker Art Center in the early 1990s, I was one of countless young people who took one of the simple black and white posters, completely unaware of its context to the artist or HIV/AIDS.
It would seem incomprehensible that Gonzalez-Torres could have predicted his work would live on, plastered across countless teenage bedroom walls throughout suburban Minnesota. But that is precisely the beauty of what is left behind, affecting lives unknown to those who created the work by expressing emotional memories through a language beyond speech, the written word, or logic itself.
The collection of works presented in this gallery contains such frozen moments in time, documenting moments, emotions, and the unreasonable nature of memory itself.
That last second we see a dear friend for the final time, the particular scent of a former lover's hair, a first introduction, an awkward kiss, the fluttering blood-rush that comes with a difficult confession: fragments archived through the original creative practice of memory. Mixed together, they comprise the rich complexity of existence.
Like Gonzalez-Torres' work, such memories live on in the bedrooms and private spaces of those they touch, creating an unexpected, moving, and ever evolving legacy. This intangible language of humanity can only be conveyed through artworks, such as those collected within archives like the one found at Visual AIDS.
It is impossible to escape the finality of time, and in some bittersweet way, this is precisely what instills such experiences with a remarkable beauty. In the Visual AIDSarchive, incorporating so many artists and works touched by endings, it is the emergent nature of humanity that is highlighted.
Facing such finality, we are left with the choice of struggling in anguish over the precious nature of time, or accepting the inevitable, enjoying the incoherent nature of life as it is lived, and when the time comes for such startling shifts, simply giving a slight wave goodbye to what once was.