Makeshift historiographies no text

Photographs and negatives pertaining to David Nelson (1960–2013)

As part of our continued effort to support scholarship on artists who have been lost to AIDS, Visual AIDS will participate in the next College Art Association conference in Chicago.

Jackson Davidow (Curatorial Fellow in Photography, Harvard Art Museums) and Kyle Croft (Interim Director, Visual AIDS) will host a session at the conference focused on archival strategies for HIV and AIDS art histories.

We are soliciting abstracts for papers responding to the theme below by August 31. All submitters will receive a decision by September 18. Up to four abstracts will be accepted and invited to present at the CAA conference in February.

For more information about the conference or to submit an abstract, click here.

Note: This session will be held in-person at the CAA Annual Conference in Chicago, February 14 to 17, 2024. Scholars are responsible for the cost of conference attendance; limited support funding is available through CAA.

Makeshift Historiographies: Case Studies in HIV/AIDS Cultural Archives

For hundreds of artists who died of AIDS-related causes, only scant traces of their work—if any at all—exist in institutional archival repositories. Therefore, art-historical work revolving around the ongoing HIV/AIDS pandemic has often called for inventive archival methods that blend traditional forms of research with community work and emotional labor. Over the last fifteen years, scholars and activists have contended with the gaps and erasures in such archives as well as the geographic, racial, and gender biases that have characterized many historical projects. In so doing, many have necessarily drawn on and even created community-based repositories, personal collections, and oral history initiatives. The precarity and preciousness of such archives are central topics in recent scholarship, including Marika Cifor’s, Viral Cultures: Activist Archiving in the Age of AIDS (2022), Jarrett Earnest’s Devotion: Today’s Future Becomes Tomorrow’s Archive (2022), and Alexandra Juhasz and Theodore Kerr’s We Are Having This Conversation Now: The Times of AIDS Cultural Production (2022).

Indebted to these texts, our panel calls for papers focused on case studies elaborating on archival methods related to art histories of HIV/AIDS. Seeking to acknowledge the efforts of scholars, curators, and archivists who have worked to complicate this emergent canon and reimagine the terrain of AIDS cultural production, we welcome papers that reintroduce artists or their legacies into public and scholarly discourse, detailing the journey from discovery, inquiry, analysis, and sharing. We are especially interested in papers offering methodological reflections that might be of use to individuals engaged in parallel projects.