Trina Rose at (re)Presenting AIDS: Culture and Accountability

On August 22, 2013, Visual AIDS along with the Pop Up Museum of Queer History and the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies, held a public forum entitled, (re)Presenting AIDS: Culture and Accountability. The event was recorded and transcribed. Panelists we invited to present a short statement about their work related to AIDS, art, and representation, after which the audience joined in on the conversation. Below, artist Trina Rose speaks about connections, and the role of the "super crip".

Hi my name is Trina Rose and I am an artist. I call my work an exploration of the identity politics and intersections of gender, sexuality and disability. I identify as Crip, which is really an academic way of saying queer theory meets disability studies. I find there is very much an overlap of political movements within the two movements.

In disability studies there is a critical look at the way personal individual stories are not the way to go politically. It obscures the politics; it obscures the systems that reinforce the oppressions. For example in 1996 in Canada there was an organization for Intersex activists and now there is no longer one because it is considered a disorder and it’s the medicalization of these things that can obscure the bigger and larger meta stories. I think about this a lot.

There is an archetype that we use in disability studies called “super crip”, and it is the one who overcomes the tragedy. They are like super man, like Christopher Reeves. This super crimp, they are standing with their muscles in a wheelchair, you know? So we find that often problematic, and I was just wondering, you know I heard, "PWAIDS" in the John Waters’ story, which I image comes from PWDs - people with disabilities - it is a short cut we often use. I have heard people say HIV versus person, and also Hugh Ryan said "for us, by us" and one of the big slogans in disability studies is "Nothing about us, without us." So I see a lot of these overlaps and I often wonder what kind of conversations we could have about that and about the individualizing of stories that bring forth this kind of heart touching tragedy mode, that makes us reach out to each other in a way that obscures the who the"they" actually is? And I think more of our conversations need to be about defining the "they" and the "what" that the "they" are doing.

I think the younger generations want to make differences they just don't know where or who or what or how and I am not sure if that is the institution's role. I don't know if it’s the museum's role. But I feel like those of who are involved in the struggle need to make that more clearly defined

Download the full transcript at: (re)Presenting AIDS transcript