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17 February 2008
The Photosyntax of Brenton Maart
Curated by Ultra-red
In recent years Ultra-red has joined with community groups in multiple cities in the U.S. and Canada to explore strategies for collective organizing around the AIDS epidemic. They have held these events in art museums, galleries and art schools in order to investigate the potential role such institutions may play in local efforts to address the crisis. LACE has hosted Ultra-red on a number of occasions in its development of these projects and in doing so has participated actively in our investigations. The collaboration between LACE and Ultra-red on this exhibition of works by Brenton Maart marks a significant step in this institutional analysis.
Maart, a South African gay man of mixed racial heritage, was born and raised when the Apartheid regime was in power. Consequently, he is intimately acquainted with how state regulation of race and sexuality shapes intimate emotional, psychological and physical experiences. In the post-Apartheid era he and other artists of his and earlier generations, such as Bernie Searle, Anton Kannemeyer, Zanele Muholi, Conrad Botes, Diane Victor, and Nicholas Hlobo, have begun investigating the desires, hopes, histories and practices that define the contemporary sphere of sexuality in South Africa. This work inventories the ideological practices that shape how South Africans imagine and re-imagine themselves. While the trajectories they follow may be particular to South Africa, they are nevertheless resonant with comparable efforts in the United States.
Acknowledgement: Maart’s artwork, Factory Crossword, was commissioned for Make Art/Stop AIDS, an exhibition of HIV/AIDS related art work from the United States, South Africa, Brazil and India. The exhibition, scheduled to travel to venues in each of the participating countries, is having its first showing at the Fowler Museum in Los Angeles (February 23 – June 15, 2008). Concerned that Maart's work would present a barrier to the attendance of school groups to the exhibition—a target audience—the Fowler was hopeful it might be presented elsewhere in Los Angeles. Fortunately, LACE offered to show the piece, along with other works by Brenton Maart. The Fowler has generously sponsored this exhibition by providing financial and logistical support.
RELATED PUBLIC PROGRAMS
28 February 2008, 7 - 9 pm
PNP: Party n Plays:
AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA) presents an evening of theater on gay men and substance use. Whether the substance is love and friendship, meth or pot, we invite the greater Los Angeles communities to join in an evening of fine artistic work and substantive discussion on the perils and pleasures inherent in the volatile mix of masculinity, lust and drugs. Featuring staged readings of excerpts from: Circuitry by Andrew Barrett; Porridge by Brian Bauman; A Writer & His History by Ricardo A. Bracho; Meth’ed to Madness by Anthony Breen; I Am Derek Jackson by Derek Jackson; (e)vaporate. by Christopher Oscar Pena; and INHALE/EXHALE by Robert Sanchez. Dramaturgy and Direction by Ricardo A. Bracho. Produced by Patrick “Pato” Hebert, Associate Director of Education, APLA. Free and open to all publics.
1 March 2008, 2 – 6pm followed by a reception
The Epidemic is Still Beginning:
Sexuality, Representation and HIV Prevention Justice
A public forum organized by Ultra-red and CHAMP on the occasion of South African photographer, Brenton Maart's exhibition On the Risk of Others at LACE (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions).
Presented in cooperation with the exhibition MAKE ART / STOP AIDS at the UCLA Fowler Museum.
SESSION ONE: INSTITUTIONS AT RISK (Cultural Institutions and the AIDS Crisis)
2:00pm to 3:45pm
Panelists: Marla Berns, Director, Fowler Museum, UCLA
Carol Stakenas, Director, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions
Alexandra Juhasz, Professor of Media Studies, Pitzer College
Simon Leung, Associate Professor of Studio Art, UC Riverside
Moderator: Robert Sember, Ultra-red
The Marxists philosopher Louis Althusser has suggested that the ideology of the dominant class is manifest in the practices of civic institutions, including museums, galleries, schools and non-governmental service organizations. Struggles for financial security, status and audience are among the ways in which these institutions engage with systems of power and measure success—they usually depend on State, philanthropic organizations and wealthy individuals for money; adhere to standards established by the market or an elite group of critics and scholars; and, serve the interests of core patrons. While these mechanisms help determine institutional practices, they also provide points for critical engagement. The discussion, Institutions at Risk, will examine these ideological systems in light of the AIDS epidemic and other crises. It is often at points of crisis that institutional mechanisms are most emphatically enforced and are thus momentarily visible. The discussion will focus on how art institutions and art professionals define and practice their "civic mandates." The panelists will have an opportunity to reflect on how they negotiate their various roles as curators, administrators, teachers, artists and activists within institutional contexts and to discuss with audience members examples of contemporary and historic exhibitions, and art works events and practices that illustrate how institutions function at moments of risk.
BREAK: 3:45pm to 4:15pm
SESSION TWO: ACTS OF SOLIDARITY (Prevention Justice and the Administration of Crisis)
4:15pm to 6:00pm
Panelists: Darrell Cummings, Gay and Lesbian Center
Rosemary Candelario, Department of World Arts and Cultures, UCLA
Gina Lamb, REACH
Richard Hamilton, CHAMP
Robert Sember, Ultra-red
Moderator: Walt Senterfitt, CHAMP
The dominant public health approach to HIV-prevention in the United States emphasizes behavior change and individual responsibility. The terms of analysis used to support this approach consist of clearly defined risk groups (men-who-have-sex-with-men, injecting drug users, commercial sex workers) and discrete risk practices (unprotected anal and vaginal sex, needle sharing). The resulting interventions do little to connect the members of these risk groups to the political and economic contexts in which they live. Most activist and community-based groups, however, have emphasized how structural or social factors produce individual and collective vulnerability to HIV-infection. These factors include income disparities, discrimination, prejudice and lack of access to prevention information and technologies. As the epidemic grows and the limits of dominant public health models become clear, increasing numbers of public health workers are focusing on factors that define risk contexts and conditions such as poverty, gender oppression and religious fundamentalism. Advocates of this approach have called for a social justice-based approach to HIV-prevention and strengthening the lines of solidarity that connect HIV activism to a variety of other social movements, including immigrant rights, the women's movement, environmental activism and anti-globalization movements. A core practice of these coalitions is the analysis of institutions and the roles they play in facilitating or frustrating the expansion of social justice causes. Art institutions and practices were once key venues for critique, learning and organizing. In the discussion, Acts of Solidarity, we will examine the key principles of the prevention justice movement and what may follow from engagements between it and members of the art world.
Download the On the Risk of Others press release.