JULY 7 - AUGUST 13, 2023
In contemporary art history, the color blue has often been as important as black and white. It has a long-standing relationship with HIV+ artists and the general history of the HIV/AIDS crisis. For many of those artists, the color blue has served as a symbol for one more day being alive-a new day with a promising blue sky above them.
Not only can blue be seen as limitless as the sky but also the endless water of the open ocean. Yet, blue has both positive and negative connotations and has other meanings apart from the color. We all know blue as a synonym for sorrow and depression. And somehow it carries-especially as it relates to the HIV+ status-a complicated range of emotions: horror, rage, fear, and grief. There is not so much optimism in many shades of blue, and they also can conjure senses of social isolation and loneliness. However, as the color of the PrEP pill, nowadays blue can also be perceived as a color of hope. But not only.
There are a myriad of Felix Gonzalez-Torres's works that employ this color. As he said in an interview with Tim Rollins in 1993 "if a beautiful memory could have a color, that would be light blue." That color would be a washed-out Giotto blue, or blue saturated with bright sunlights in the Caribbean, or simply light blue. He added, too, that there is "a lot of positive dialectic" in blues. In a separate interview, he notes that blue "evokes water and the sky. Sometimes, in New York, when it's a beautiful day out, it's exactly like that." Between 1987 and 1992, Felix Gonzalez-Torres created approximately fifty-five jigsaw puzzles, most of them in monochrome, wrapped in plastic and installed directly onto the wall. They explore the fluid boundary between the public and private domains, as well as the intricate interplay among memory, fragmentation, history, absence, presence, and photography. Several of the works' editions were printed with a blue tint-"Untitled" (Waldheim to The Pope), 1989, depicting the Pope giving communion to Kurt Waldheim-is presented in the show.
Derek Jarman's last video work before he died of AIDS was called "Blue" (1993). It begins with vivid flashes of blue light interrupting his vision-a result of lesions discovered on his eyes caused by AIDS-related infection. A space filled with blue light from a projector playing his video was a response to his HIV diagnosis, his confrontation with mortality, and the epitome of the void. Without a doubt, this work has inspired many generations of artists.
The diversity of works presented at this exhibition is not limited to only the color blue, nor its associations with just water and sky. By showcasing the versatility of the many meanings of blue, it aims to not only show the progress that has been made but also serve as a reminder that the HIV crisis is not over-it's still happening now. Most importantly, it's a reminder that we all live under the same (blue) sky, and we must resolve HIV-related stigma.
Artists: Dumb Type, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Joe Houston, Jaewon Kim, Clifford Prince King, Reverend Joyce McDonald, Carlos Motta, Richard Porter, Hunter Reynolds, LJ Roberts, Joey Terrill, Frederick Weston
Gallery hours: Tuesday–Friday, 12-6pm.
The weekend of August 12th and 13th: by appointment only.