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The importance of community and dialogue are at the heart of Visual AIDS' new DUETS publication series. In hopes of bringing together the extended Visual AIDS community of artist members, advocates, and affiliates around our latest publications, Visual AIDS is hosting a book club for DUETS: Stephen Andrews & Gregg Bordowitz at 7:00pm on November 20 at the Bureau of General Services Queer Division (in the NYC LGBT Center, 208 West 13th Street, Room #210). The first volume of DUETS considers themes such as long-term survival with HIV/AIDS, mentorship, activism, and spirituality. We will discuss these topics as well as insights, inspirations and reactions to the engaging and highly readable DUETS conversation, which highlights connections between communities of artists and activists. We encourage book club participants to have read DUETS, yet all are welcome to participate in the discussion.

DUETS books are available in New York City at the Bureau of General Services Queer Division and Printed Matter.

They are also available on Visual AIDS' website and in our office (526 West 26th Street #510).


Quotes from DUETS: Stephen Andrews & Gregg Bordowitz in conversation

"There may be an art to conversation, and some are better at it than others, but conversation's virtue lies in randomness and possibility: people, without a plan, could speak a spontaneous, unexpected truth, because revelation rules. Telling words recur in this smart, generous conversation between Stephen Andrews and Gregg Bordowitz: patience, responsibility, feminism, ethics, cosmology, AIDS, gift, freedom, mortality." -Lynne Tillman, Foreword, DUETS: Stephen Andrews & Gregg Bordowitz in conversation

Stephen Andrews: "There’s no way anybody could tell me that activism doesn’t work. It’s funny when I talk to students, and they throw their hands up and say that going to a demonstration doesn’t make a difference. I say phooey. You have to change that way of thinking and be less impatient. I know that when you’re angry about things you want change, there’s a real impatience involved. For me, when I’m in these moments of pedagogy, I try to teach patience."

Gregg Bordwitz: "I’ve never worked from a place of responsibility. I’m an avowed political artist. People see me as a political artist. But I’ve always felt that I’ve done whatever I’ve done from a place of desire, not from responsibility. All those years I found myself in the middle of throngs of protesters, holding a camera—I wasn’t there out of responsibility. I loved being in that crowd, and I loved having the camera with me. I enjoyed that activity. I was present, and the camera was a way of being present. It was a way of being—different ways of being present at events that I attended out of urgency, exigency, and desire, not responsibility."

Stephen Andrews: "I didn’t paint for a long time because I’m a child of the feminists. Women’s lib begat gay lib, and so we’re sons of women’s lib. The idea of painting was tied up in the “masterpiece,” the work of the patriarchy, so I tacitly refused to go there. When I turned fifty and became the patriarch [chuckles], I thought, oh, shit, all is lost, so I might as well embrace it. Never say never. You should always do things that you said you’d never do to challenge yourself. I thought that was kind of an interesting epiphany. I realized how hard painting is"

Gregg Bordwitz: "I’m relating to your description of your travels with painting—I come out of feminism, as well as punk and DIY. I first embraced video as a feminist, a male feminist. I looked at what was happening in the art world, and I saw Dara Birnbaum,Martha Rosler, Judith Barry, Sherrie Milner, Adrian Piper—feminist video—which was embracing narrative and image in a way that no other art was... I’m thinking now that it’s even a disservice to talk about feminism; we should talk about feminisms. All those debates within feminism—about nature versus nurture, about essentialism versus constructionism—were also the structuring debates for my earliest engagement with gay politics. Those same questions structured my own interrogation of what gay liberation meant in the political field and in the art field... One of my teachers and mentors, the great art historian and critic Craig Owens, who died of AIDS, wrote about the influence of feminism on his consciousness of being a gay man. That was enormously significant to me."


This is Visual AIDS' third book club held at The Bureau, the first for Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father by Alysia Abbott and the second for Fire in the Belly: The Life and Times of David Wojnarowicz. Book clubs are an ongoing forum for us to bring together art, HIV/AIDS and community. We hope you can join us.

DUETS is a series of publications that pairs artists, activists, writers, and thinkers in dialogues about their creative practices and current social issues around HIV/AIDS. Drawing from the Visual AIDS Artist Registry and Archive Project, this series continues Visual AIDS’ mission to support, promote, and honor the work of artists with HIV/AIDS and the artistic contributions of the AIDS movement.

Stephen Andrews