The New York City AIDS Memorial has announced its upcoming season of free, public arts and cultural programming for May and June 2023, organized alongside artist, musician, and curator Nick Hallett.
As a community site of remembrance, particularly for those impacted by the ongoing AIDS epidemic, the Memorial honors and acknowledges a complex history by serving as a platform for dialogue, advocacy, and, recently, programming that examines the multidimensional themes surrounding HIV/AIDS, including joy, mourning, and remembrance.
This season’s programming contextualizes the stories of HIV/AIDS, highlighting both contemporary and historical voices, and conveys engaging and inclusive examinations of how AIDS has shaped — and is shaping — the current world. Through the presentation of visionary works, many by creators whose lives and practices are rooted in response to the epidemic, the New York City AIDS Memorial seeks to expand its reach to engage a wider audience.
Upcoming programs include:
John Bernd Variations: Open Rehearsal: Ishmael Houston-Jones, Miguel Gutierrez, and Nick Hallett with Raha Behnam, Toni Carlson, Alvaro Gonzalez, Charles Gowin, Kris Lee, Johnnie Cruise Mercer, and Alex Rodabaugh, co-presented with Danspace Project on Thursday, May 18th at 6 pm.
John Bernd (1953–1988) was a trans-disciplinarian in Downtown New York’s hyperactive art world of the 1980s, combining original movement, music, and text to make performances that merged experimentalism and personal narratives of living with AIDS. In 2016, choreographers Ishmael Houston-Jones and Miguel Gutierrez collaborated with musician Nick Hallett to adapt excerpts from Bernd’s celebrated works into a striking montage for a new generation of performers.
This free open rehearsal is presented by the New York City AIDS Memorial in partnership with Danspace Project and precedes a series of performances of Variations on Themes from Lost and Found: Scenes from a Life and Other Works by John Bernd, co-directed by Miguel Gutierrez and Ishmael Houston-Jones, with music by Nick Hallett, at Danspace Project, May 25th through 27th and June 1st through 3rd at 7:30 pm. In addition, Conversations Without Walls, a related, day-long symposium, including panels and film screenings, will be held at Danspace Project on May 20th. For more information on the performances, please visit danspaceproject.org.
Craig’s closet: Jim Hodges, on view from June 1st through May 2024.
Craig’s closet is a newly created artwork by Jim Hodges. On view beginning June 1st, the sculpture was imagined explicitly for the New York City AIDS Memorial Park, which lies in the shadow of the former St. Vincent’s hospital and in proximity to many sites central to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. This exact replica of a domestic bedroom closet in granite and painted bronze, invites viewers to forge personal connections between complex histories and individual and collective memories.
Craig’s closet is a continuation of the New York City AIDS Memorial’s public art program, which has included installations and events by Steven Evans, Jean-Michel Othoniel, Jenny Holzer, and others. The sculpture will be on view for one year beginning June 1st, 2023, and is exhibited as a part of NYC Parks’ Art in the Parks program.
Weavers of the Daisy Chain Gang Chorus: Ties That Bond: Peter Cramer and Jack Waters with NYOBS on Saturday, June 10th at noon.
Throughout their 40-year collaboration, Peter Cramer and Jack Waters have built a media-driven interdisciplinary practice that draws upon socio-political engagement with issues of sexual/gender identity and AIDS activism. For the Memorial, Cramer and Waters have conceived a durational performance/installation in collaboration with members of their “queer-skinned kitchen band,” NYOBS, featuring John Michael Swartz and Mike Cacciatore. For several hours, the ensemble will weave a tapestry of ribbons, sound, movement, music, and text throughout the Memorial site, evoking the tradition of springtime maypole celebrations. Inspired by the 1960s-era “Happenings,” musical instruments and art materials will be provided to the general public to activate the site as part of the event. In the spirit of an urban homestead, all attendees are encouraged to get involved in building together.
Named “New York City’s Most Radical Queers” by i-D magazine, multimedia artists Peter Cramer and Jack Waters are constantly in the process of creating performances, films, videos, installations, and works of social practice. They are co-founders and directors of Le Petit Versailles, a community art garden on the Lower East Side that organizes free screenings of experimental, underground movies outside under the trees. This program is free and open to the public.
Legends of Drag with Caracol de Cuba, Dina Jacobs, Egyptt LaBeija, Kelly Ray, Ruby Rims, and Simone; emceed by Linda Simpson, followed by Dance for a Memorial II with sets by Oscar Nñ, DJ CHES, Nikki Jax, and more to be announced, on Wednesday, June 14th from 6 to 9 pm.
In honor of NYC Pride Month, the New York City AIDS Memorial is partnering with the creative team behind the new portrait book Legends of Drag (Abrams, 2022) to present a free live revue at the Memorial. The performance features seven fabulous drag elders — Caracol de Cuba, Dina Jacobs, Egyptt LaBeija, Kelly Ray, Ruby Rims, and Simone, with Linda Simpson serving as emcee — all of whom paved the way for the drag renaissance of today. Brave, campy, brash, witty, and most of all talented dancers, lip-synch artists, and live singers, these queens are survivors, thrivers, and cultural ambassadors. As both drag performers and trans folks have increasingly become political targets and scapegoats, uplifting these trailblazers and sharing in their wisdom and joy is one of the most potent antidotes available. The revue will begin at 6 pm and will be directly followed by Dance for a Memorial II.
Dance for a Memorial II is the New York City AIDS Memorial’s second annual silent disco featuring a line-up of incredible DJs, including Oscar Nñ (Papi Juice), DJ CHES, and resident sound guru DJ Nikki Jax, playing diverse and exciting music rooted in LGBTQ+ pride. This community event is a free, fun, and social way to celebrate our history, present, and future. Participation is easy: trade in collateral (a picture ID, credit card, etc.) to secure your wireless headphones and dance the night away under the stars in New York City AIDS Memorial Park. The full DJ lineup and host committee will be announced in April 2023. Dance for a Memorial will begin at 7 pm.
Head Back, Eyes to Sky: Pamela Sneed, Mazz Swift, and Natalie Greffel on Thursday, June 29th at 6 pm.
This experiment blends text, sound, and a passage through memory, bringing together influential poet and performer Pamela Sneed with the remarkable musicians Natalie Greffel and Mazz Swift. Sneed’s practice poignantly emerges from her service as an activist and caregiver during the height of the AIDS epidemic. Recognized for her compelling spoken voice, Sneed has recently entered more musical realms, which will be explored in this improvisatory context, with Greffel on bass and Swift on violin and electronics — three voices in song. This program is free and open to the public.
All events will take place at the New York City AIDS Memorial at St. Vincent’s Triangle, located at Greenwich Avenue and West 12th Street in New York City’s West Village. For more information visit the New York City AIDS Memorial website.
Photo of NYC AIDS Memorial Park sculpture at St Vincent’s Triangle in Greenwich Village courtesy Wikimedia user FULBERT.