From May 1 – June 5, 2011, PARTICIPANT INC presents Survival AIDS, a major solo exhibition by Hunter Reynolds. Reynolds is a New York artist and activist who has been living with HIV/AIDS since 1984. Survival AIDS spans two decades of Reynolds’ work, incorporating key elements of his ongoing practice—the Blood Spot series, Mummification performances, and Photo Weavings. Reflecting a present state of the HIV/AIDS crisis, Reynolds reconfigures historical material, performance remnants, and a vast collection of newspaper clippings related to HIV/AIDS in a new site-specific installation.
In 1987, Reynolds became a member of ACT UP and in 1989 co-founded Art Positive, an affinity group to fight homophobia and censorship in the arts. In the early ‘90s, Reynolds staged a series of performances in which he extracted his own blood and dropped it onto paper, later scanning it to create perfectly shaped spots of blood, reclaimed in his artwork ever since. Between 1989 and 1993, Reynolds clipped every HIV/AIDS and LGBT-related article he found in the New York Times as part of a series of art works called Dialogue Tables and Activist Media Installations—created at Hallwalls, The New Museum, and Simon Watson Gallery. The articles were presented on tables, projected onto walls, or read as part of performances. For the past 17 years, they have been kept in boxes. As part of a process of revisiting older bodies of work in preparation for his new installation, the boxes were opened to find several hundred collected articles. Reynolds methodically scanned, arranged, and altered these headlines and stories to produce a monumental series of his signature Photo Weavings for Survival AIDS. Twenty 60 x 48 inch pieces, each composed of 120 individual photographs, sewn together to resemble quilts or tapestries, frame the exhibition.
Throughout the installation, remnants from ten years of Reynolds’ Mummification performances appear—‘skins’ made from layers of plastic and brightly colored tape, cut away and reconfigured as prevailing reminders of the many re-embodiments of the artist over time. Together with the Photo Weavings, representing large-scale collages of newspaper articles, at times overlaid with images from the Blood Spot series, Survival AIDS maps our collective memory while bringing together facets of the artist’s identity as a person living with advanced HIV and an activist who has relentlessly chronicled the AIDS pandemic.
Hunter Reynolds is a Brooklyn-based visual artist and AIDS activist. For over twenty years, he has been using photography, performance, and installation to express his experience as an HIV+ gay man. His work addresses issues of gender identity; political, social, and sexual histories; mourning, loss, survival, hope, and healing. He has performed extensively, both nationally and internationally, as his alter ego, Patina du Prey. His project, Memorial Dress, involved posing on a rotating platform for several hours a day while wearing a dress printed with over 25,000 names of people who have died of HIV/AIDS. hunterwreynolds.com
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