“HIV/AIDS Cure and Curation in the Visual AIDS Archive Project”
Marika Cifor, PhD
University of Washington
Thursday, February 9, 2023
Research Bldg. #6
In her new book, Viral Cultures: Activist Archiving in the Age of AIDS (University of Minnesota Press), Marika Cifor delves deep into the archives that keep the history and work of AIDS activism alive. She details how contemporary activists, artists, and curators utilize these records to build upon the cultural legacy of 1980s and 1990s American AIDS activism to challenge the injustices that undergird current crises. She analyzes the power structures through which these archives are mediated, positioning vital nostalgia as both a critical faculty and a generative practice for reanimating the past in the digital age.
In this talk, Cifor proposes activist archiving as cure. AIDS activists, advocacy organizations, researchers and physicians, and people living with HIV/AIDS have devoted vast energy and resources to finding a medical cure for HIV/AIDS. Now well into the fourth decade of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, a medical cure remains elusive. Since 1994, Visual AIDS has documented, collected, preserved, and made accessible the records of artists living with HIV and estates of artists who have perished. The holistic cure Visual AIDS demands with its activist archiving is requisite to responding to an epidemic that is political and cultural as much as biomedical. The Archive Project highlights the material and conceptual affordances of archiving as anti-AIDS activism. Its records and their activation through archival and curatorial practices hold imaginative capacities for challenging the persistent injustices that characterize the ongoing AIDS pandemic.
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