Gordon Kurtti Project
From June 2 – July 14, 2013, PARTICIPANT INC is proud to present the Gordon Kurtti
Project, curated by Carl George of Allied Productions. Gordon Stokes Kurtti produced a
brief yet concentrated burst of artistic output in the early ‘80s before his life was
cut short by HIV/AIDS, a disease that claimed so many of his peers. This exhibition is
the first to collect his drawings and paintings, as well as his work in film,
performance, and poetry, tracing Kurtti’s lasting impact on the East Village art scene.
A vital and collaborative persona who drifted from nightclubs to film sets, Kurtti
sketched his social milieu with an extraordinarily sure hand. Included in the
exhibition are fine-line drawings and caricature collages of peers and performers like
Hapi Phace, Lypsinka, Lady Bunny, Kimberly Flynn, and Tabboo! (Stephen Tashjian).
Remarkable, too, was his ability to render the defining details of a character,
especially in his humorous and outrageously pointed caricatures of celebrities like Sam
Shepard, Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, Katherine Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Annie Lennox
and Prince, among others.
Gordon Stokes Kurtti (May 4, 1960 - April 18, 1987) was an American artist, writer,
illustrator, and performer. He died of AIDS related illnesses at the age of 26.
A prominent fixture in the early East Village art scene of New York City, he is perhaps
best known for his caricatures of celebrities and Dickensian portrayals of ragamuffin
children and New Yorkers of every ilk. Kurtti was a member of Allied Productions, a
not-for-profit arts organization based in New York City, and collaborated on many
performances, films, and art education workshops. He exhibited at ABC No Rio,
Armageddon, The Pyramid Club, 8BC, and Life Café. Kurtti’s prolific output, traversing
visual art, literature, performance, fashion and cinema, along with his activity within
the nightclub milieu of the downtown NY scene of the‘80s, is evocative of the period
before AIDS decimated a generation, which, as writer Sarah Schulman has noted, “changed
the course of world culture forever.”
Gordon Kurtti Project events
One Night Stands
Wednesdays, June 5 - July 10, 7pm at Participant Inc
A performance series recalling the mid-80s zeitgeist with celebrated writers and
June 5: Q. Sakamaki, Kembra Pfahler, Joe Westmoreland, Eileen Myles
June 12: P.O.O.L. presents The Jack and Peter Show starring Jack Waters, Peter
Cramer, and Justin Sayre with special guests Carlo Maria Ampil, Connor Donahue,
Ariana Huffenstuff, Jim Hubbard, Ryan E. Roger, and Sarah Schulman
June 19: Hapi Phace & Agosto Machado, Edgar Oliver, Marga Gomez
June 26: Kimberly Flynn, John “Lypsinka” Epperson, Penny Arcade
July 3: Samoa, Carmelita Tropicana, Karen Finley
July 10: Linda Simpson, John Kelly
Naked Eye Cinema
Friday, June 28 7:30pm at Anthology Film Archives, 32 Second Avenue, NYC
An evening of experimental film curated by Jack Waters featuring Kurtti as an actor or
set and costume designer, including La Belle Fleur (1985) and The Lost 40 Days (1986)
by Carl George; Penny Candy (1985) by Peter Cramer; Brains By Revlon (1986) by Jack
Waters; and Hystery (1985) by Bradley Eros and Aline Mare of Erotic Psyche.
Dirty Looks + Visual AIDS
Thursday June 20, 7pm at Participant Inc
A screening and panel discussion on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Visual
AIDS, celebrating the downtown scene of the 1980s and early ‘90s, featuring rarely seen
films by Carl George and David Wojnarowicz. The panel includes Jack Waters, Rayya
Elias, and C. Carr, moderated by Esther Kaplan, Editor in Chief of The Investigative
Fund / The Nation Institute.
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