Ian Alteveer, associate curator in the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, curates a selection of Visual AIDS Artist+ Member artworks highlighting self-portraits.

View Ian's lightbox RADIANT PRESENCE / Self-Portraits from the Registry images and read his web gallery text below. Ian was one of nine collaborating curators for Visual AIDS 26th annual Day With(out) Art RADIANT PRESENCE.

Photographic self-portraits convey many things to the viewer, not least among them an invitation to consider the artist’s own self-regard and perhaps a privileged look into the maker’s private world or inner psyche. Many of the artists in this selection of pictures from the Visual AIDS Artist+ Registry depict themselves in frank dialogue with the camera—sometimes even without the protection that clothing or other artifice might provide. For each of these, however, there are equally as many images where the photographer has disguised him- or herself as something or someone else. These role-playing guises—whether the donning of a paper mask of poet Arthur Rimbaud, as in David Wojnarowicz’s haunting series shot on New York City streets and back alleys, or dressing up like singer Joni Mitchell, as in John Kelly’s well-loved impersonation—speaks to the ability of artists to evoke ghosts from the past or visions of the future within the debatably forthright medium of the camera. Most importantly, though, the self-portraits in this selection speak to the enduring power of the camera to preserve an extraordinary visual record of the myriad lives HIV/AIDS has touched and all too often taken.

Ian Alteveer is associate curator in the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, where he recently organized the 2015 Roof Garden Commission: Pierre Huyghe. He also curated the prior two commissions with Dan Graham and Günter Vogt (2014) and Imran Qureshi (2013), as well as William Kentridge: The Refusal of Time (2013–14). He was part of the curatorial team for the Met’s Regarding Warhol: Sixty Artists, Fifty Years (2012), which traveled to the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, and worked on the Museum’s presentations of Ellsworth Kelly Plant Drawings (2012); Richard Serra Drawing (2011); John Baldessari: Pure Beauty (2010); Francis Bacon: A Retrospective (2009); and Jasper Johns: Gray (2008). Before the Met he was graduate curatorial fellow and curatorial assistant at New York University’s Grey Art Gallery, where he worked on a groundbreaking survey of art from New York in the 1970s and early ‘80s, The Downtown Show: 1974–84 (2005). He has an undergraduate degree from Stanford University and completed his qualifying exams for a PhD in the history of art at NYU's Institute of Fine Arts, where he is writing a dissertation on the early institutional history of California Institute of Arts and art in Los Angeles in the 1970s. Ian was also a visiting critic at the Yale University School of Art where he taught critical practice to first-year MFA students from 2008 to 2013.

Peter Hujar

David Wojnarowicz

Jimmy De Sana

Mark Morrisroe

Jack Smith

Robert Mapplethorpe

Dirk H. Wilms

Nelson Rodriguez

Tseng Kwong Chi

Kurt Weston

Max Greenberg


John Kelly

Jürgen Baldiga

Kia LaBeija

Kissa Millar