Picturing AIDS: 1986-1996

The exhibition consists of art and cultural work about the AIDS crisis; primarily created during the years between 1986 and 1996. The work addresses AIDS not only as a unique viral pandemic but also as a political and cultural phenomenon. The language of its representation is as complex as the socio-political fields from which it is articulated. Its picture is not singular or fixed but fractured and multi-dimensional. It is as private as it is public.

The LGBT Community Center’s 2nd, 3rd, and 4th floors’ public and gallery spaces contain my work from this period, not in a chronological fashion, but in a way that clusters ideas and themes that I have been developing over the years.

For those of you who are too young to remember the early years of the epidemic, I hope that this exhibition will give you a frame within which to picture an intensely complicated, often painful, but more often heroic era in the history of our community.

Rudy Lemcke 
The LGBT Community Center
 San Francisco, California

LGBTCenter San Francisco
LGBT Center 2nd Floor

View of the 2nd Floor of the GLBT Community Center, San Francisco. 2007. The Picturing AIDS exhibition was presented on the 2nd, 3rd, 4th floors of the Center with a projection of the video Where the Buffalo Roam on the building’s facade on opening night.

End of Beauty Video Still

1. The End of Beauty: Video still.

Disco Ball

2. Haunted House: Video still from CD-ROM.

Photo from the Origin of Light

3. The Origin of Light: Image from CD-ROM

Origin of Light

4. The Origin of Light: Video still from CD-ROM.

3rd Floor Common Area
3rd Floor

View of the 3rd Floor community space from the Remembering the 6th International AIDS Conference installation toward the ACT UP Banners installation.

LGBT Center 3rd Floor

5. Entrance to the Exhibition: Image of ACT UP activist used for the exhibition announcement and image of Touch used for the curatorial talk.

ACT UP Banner Paintings mage

 6. ACT-UP Banner Paintings: Southern Exposure Gallery, 1989.
For this series of paintings I took excerpts from various texts that dealt with AIDS, and by juxtaposing the texts, an action word is called forth that is either revealed or concealed by the two readings.

image of die in posters

7. Die-In Posters : A series of silk screen prints created from a photo taken at the 6th International Conference on AIDS.

Immemorial Photo and Drawing

8. Immemorial: A Performance/Sculpture for World AIDS Day – De Young Museum Hearst Court. 1992. Photo of installation and sketch of original proposal.

Photos of AIDS Conference

 9. Remembering the 6th International Conference on AIDS: A re-staging of an installation at Eye Gallery in San Francisco, Remembering the 6th International Conference on AIDS. It contained my photos and ephemera from ACT UP media working group.

Picturing 3rd Floor Hall image

10, 11, 12: Curatorial and Collaborative Projects: In the hallway that joins the community area and the gallery are representative images from 3 projects: The Wizard Of Oz Series (shown with Group Material’s AIDS Timeline), Who Killed Robert Mapplethorpe? (from an exhibition that I curated at the San Francisco Art Institute called, Inside/Out: Voices from Home); and a project that I made in the store front of Intersection for the Arts for World AIDS Day, 1997 called, Clean Works.

Image of Store Front with AIDS Installation

10. Documentation from Clean Works: A storefront installation about Safe IDU (Injection Drug Use) at Intersection for the Arts, Valenica Street Gallery in 1989. (photos in the 10,11,12 hallway)

view of AIDS Exhibit

11. Documentation from Inside/Out: Voices from Home: Curated by Rudy Lemcke 1990. San Francisco Art Institute. The artists included in Inside Out:Voices from Home were selected for their commitment to ending the AIDS epidemic, willingness to face personal trauma with hope and support, and determination to keep AIDS-related issues in the public eye. This exhibition has largely been ignored by histories of AIDS art. The exhibition included The NAMES Project, the Women’s Caucus of ACT UP, HIV+ Women’s Movement Theatre Support Group, Anna Halperin, Masami Teraoka, among others. (photos in the 10,11,12 hallway)

AIDS Timeline

12. Documentation from AIDS Timeline (Group Material): MATRIX, University Art Museum, University of California, Berkeley. 1989-1990 and Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York,1991.  (photos in the 10,11,12 hallway)

map of 3rd floor gallery

Plan of 3rd Floor Gallery.

image of intallation Picturing AIDS

13. Death Songs (left): This series of drawing/performance scores evolved over many years. The basic structure of Are You Sleeping, for example, was created in the early 80s, pre-AIDS, but soon took on a traumatic resonance as the pandemic grew in virulence. These works were exhibited together with the Fin Again(s) Wake series at Intersection for the Arts in 1989.

Picturing AIDS 3rd Floor Gallery

14. Garden for Harvey Milk Plaza: was a proposal for an AIDS Memorial that I worked on from 1985 to 1987. It was approved by the City of San Francisco but never built because I was unable to find funding for the project. The quotation for the back wall of the memorial reads: “Comrades mine and I in the midst, and their memory ever to keep…” from Walt Whitman’s, When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d.

Picturing AIDS 3rd Floor Gallery

15. Fin Again(s) Wake: Intersection for the Arts, 1989: The words are borrowed from James Joyce’s, Finnegans Wake. They were positioned to construct a series of poetic texts using names of AIDS drugs as a central axis.

Picturing AIDS Gallery

17. Cinders (1996): Southern Exposure Gallery. Painting made from burnt obituary pages from the gay newspaper Bay Area Reporter, oil and bees wax.

4th Floor LGBT Center

Map of 4th Floor. Documentation from the video Where the Buffalo Roam, projected from the 4th floor onto the widow facing Market Street, San Francisco.

Where the Buffalo Roam screen grabs

1. Where the Buffalo Roam: Screen grabs from video with overlays.

Where the Buffalo Roam

2. Where the Buffalo Roam:  Musical Score of John Cage’s Perilous Night and my editing notes and images from the video. The editing for this section of the video was synced to the score.

2 photos from the Where the Buffalo Roam video

3. Where the Buffalo Roam: Enlarged images used in the video.

Where the Buffalo Roam Projection

4. Where the Buffalo Roam: Projection from the 4th Floor onto the window facade of the LGBT Center, Market Street, SF.