Alex Fialho is the programs director for Visual AIDS, a New York–based nonprofit that utilizes the power of art to fight AIDS by provoking dialogue, supporting HIV+ artists, and preserving a legacy of artists lost to AIDS. Here, Fialho and Kyle Croft, programs associate and Day With(out) Art project manager at Visual AIDS, contextualize the upcoming December 15 screening of ALTERNATE ENDINGS, ACTIVIST RISINGS and the accompanying post-screening discussion, which Fialho will be moderating.
In 1989, shortly after its founding, Visual AIDS coordinated with seven hundred museums, universities, and galleries to observe the first annual Day Without Art on December 1, recognized as World AIDS Day. Participating institutions covered artworks and distributed information about the pandemic or closed their doors entirely, sending staff to volunteer for AIDS service organizations. From its inception, Day Without Art foregrounded absence, pointing to the immense impact of the AIDS crisis on the art world while suggesting the chilling possibility of a world without artists.
In 1998, Day Without Art became Day With(out) Art. The addition of parentheses highlights the interconnected relationship between action (with) and mourning (without) in an effort to continue to provoke an art world response to AIDS. More recently, we have collaborated with curators, artists, and hundreds of venues internationally to further Day With(out) Art’s mandate and to galvanize widespread contemporary responses to the pandemic.
The MCA Chicago December 15 screening of ALTERNATE ENDINGS, ACTIVIST RISINGS for Day With(out) Art 2018 is part of a new Visual AIDS initiative to extend our screenings, panel conversations, and artist projects into cities beyond our home of New York City. ALTERNATE ENDINGS, ACTIVIST RISINGS represents our second Day With(out) Art partnership with the MCA Chicago in as many years and highlights the impact of art in AIDS activism and advocacy today by commissioning compelling short videos from six inspiring community organizations and collectives: ACT UP New York, Positive Women’s Network, Sero Project, The SPOT, Tacoma Action Collective, and VOCAL New York.
ALTERNATE ENDINGS, ACTIVIST RISINGS seeks to reflect the persisting urgencies of today’s HIV/AIDS epidemic by pointing to pressing political concerns. In their commissioned videos, the organizations addressed intersecting issues including antiblack violence, HIV criminalization, homelessness, and the disproportionate effects of HIV on marginalized communities. At a moment of growing interest in the histories of AIDS activism, ALTERNATE ENDINGS, ACTIVIST RISINGS foregrounds contemporary engagements between activists, artists, and cultural workers on the front lines.
The Chicago premiere screening of Day With(out) Art 2018 ALTERNATE ENDINGS, ACTIVIST RISINGS will be followed by a panel with Coleman Goode of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago; Mary Patten of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; and Pamela Sneed, a Visual AIDS Board Member. A trailer for the program's short videos is available below.