A packed house came together in community to watch COMPULSIVE PRACTICE screen for Day With(out) Art 2017 as part of the Brooklyn Museum's First Saturdays programming. A post screening discussion moderated by Alexandra Juhasz featured artists Justin B. Terry-Smith and Juanita Mohammed, providing insights into the process and perspective behind the videos. Clips from the thought-provoking discussion are embedded below, and are also viewable on Visual AIDS' Vimeo account HERE.

COMPULSIVE PRACTICE was curated by Jean Carlomusto, Alexandra Juhasz, and Hugh Ryan for Visual AIDS. Participating video makers and artists include Juanita Mohammed, Ray Navarro (1964–1990), Nelson Sullivan (1948–1989), the Southern AIDS Living Quilt, James Wentzy, Carol Leigh aka Scarlot Harlot, Luna Luis Ortiz, Mark S. King, and Justin B. Terry-Smith.

Excerpt: “It is so beautiful to see your faces in this time of national disaster. Because you reflect back to us the beauty of our communities and our intersecting communities. Which, I think, is one of the things that the tape argues, it didn't know that t***p would win. In our intersecting community and the vitality of our love and our difference is every minute of that tape and it's in this room. We are the people who matter, who are real to ourselves and to each other. This work is about testifying to that. Your presence watching the work is about testifying to that” - Alexandra Juhasz

Excerpt: “As far as me growing up and going to college I kind of left it by the wayside but I always really had a passion for journalism in the media and so being a writer today really did help me to be able to be open about what I have. To be open about who I am. But I will say that I have two sons they are 20 and 18. And I will say that I LOVE social media... It does allow them to be open and to explore and explain their feelings to the outside world. It does allow us to be able to say 'here's an important cause'. Here's an avenue for you to feel passionate about, go explore that." - Justin B. Terry-Smith

Excerpt: "If something was happening, a protest at two o'clock in the morning, I was there. Every penny that I had would go into making my videos. Now that I've gotten older I've forgotten the activism, it's not as strong as it was... Now I can barely go out, I'm on dialysis but now I can make the time again to go out there and do that because there's people that need to be led... AIDS needs to be brought forth by the younger people and the older people who have the history" -Juanita Mohammed

Excerpt: "I'm in my house taking my camera with me to get the milk. You never know what you might catch!" -Juanita Mohammed

Excerpt: “Your compulsion to make art. Your compulsion to tell your stories, your experiences with AIDS and otherwise, with your family, with children feeds our activism in so many ways. And that's true for all of our artists." -Alexandra Juhasz

Excerpt: “Giving a testimony of what was going on with me was able to manifest itself and have other people say 'well this is happening with me too'. Having people comment and send me emails about that made me want to do more and more. And broadened my horizon like my husband and I are adopting this kid and another kid. I'm still doing this and thinking of what it means to be positive. And a lot of people from the older generations would say well, we never thought that would even be a possibility.” - Justin B. Terry-Smith

Excerpt: "Activists wanted to make a video of women. So I volunteered to come and after 6 weeks we would be there every Saturday. Positive, non-positive women, medical women. Originally we thought it would just be filming. But we would just end up talking, sharing our problems. We became families and we came back and talked about our videos. " -Juanita Mohammed

From video diaries to civil disobedience, holiday specials and backstage antics, Betamax to YouTube, COMPULSIVE PRACTICE displays a diversity of artistic approaches, experiences, and expectations. The compulsive video practices of these artists serve many purposes—outlet, lament, documentation, communication, empowerment, healing—and have many tones—obsessive, driven, poetic, neurotic, celebratory. COMPULSIVE PRACTICE demonstrates the place of technology, self-expression, critique, and community in the many decades and the many experiences of artists and activists living with HIV/AIDS.

COMPULSIVE PRACTICE highlights subjects ranging from historic actions against government neglect to contemporary issues such as Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and living with an undetectable viral load. Altogether, the program charts over three decades of AIDS-related video production in the face of the ongoing crisis.

We would like to thank the Brooklyn Museum, the filmmakers, and everyone who joined us at the Brooklyn Museum on December 3, 2016 for the screening of COMPULSIVE PRACTICE.


Videos by Kaz Senju

Presented in partnership with the Brooklyn Museum.

Sponsored by a Humanities New York Vision/Action Grant.