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October 16 - October 17

AIDS Activist Film and Video and the Emergence of Queer Cinema

The crisis generated by what came to be called Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, or AIDS, was not simply medical but also political and, in turn, representational. The film- and videomakers included in this survey were among the first to think about the relationship between AIDS activism and the politics of the image. Focusing primarily on the key years between 1985 and 1991, this program comprises works that both document the political struggles around AIDS and employ formal experimentation as an intervention into the AIDS epidemic as a crisis of signification. Directed by filmmakers from the world of experimental film (Barbara Hammer, Jim Hubbard), political activism (the Gran Fury and Testing the Limits collectives), and artists who laid the groundwork of the emergent queer cinema (Isaac Julien, Tom Kalin, John Greyson),  the various aesthetic practices are united by the artists’ keen understanding of the urgent need to disseminate crucial information and offer an alternative to the vacillation between indifference and hysteria the characterized the reaction of the mass media.

Special thanks: Helen Molesworth, Maisie K. and James R. Houghton Curator of Contemporary Art and Claire Grace, Harvard Art Museum; Jim Hubbard; Alex Juhasz; Gregg Bordowitz.

This program is presented in conjunction with the exhibit “ACT UP New York: Activism, Art, and the AIDS Crisis, 1987-1993,” in the Carpenter Center from October 15 to December 23, 2009. For more events connected to this exhibit, visit the Carpenter Center website.

Robert Vazquez Pacheco, Avram Finkelstein and Alexandra Juhasz in Person
Special Event Tickets $12

Friday October 16 at 8pm

They are lost to vision altogether

Directed by Tom Kalin. US 1989, video, color, 13 min.

The ADS Epidemic

Directed by John Greyson. Canada 1987, video, color, 5 min.

Kissing doesn't Kill

Directed by Gran Fury. US 1990, video, color, 2 min.

DHPG, Mon Amour

Directed by Carl Michael George. US 1989, video, color, 12 min.

Safe Sex Slut

Directed by Carol Leigh (Scarlot Harlot). US 1987, video, color, 3 min.

DiAna’s Hair Ego

Directed by Ellen Spiro. US 1989, video, color, 30 min.

This is Not an AIDS Advertisement

Directed by Isaac Julien. US 1988, video, color, 10 min.


Directed by Rosa von Praunheim. US/Germany 1987, video, color,
excerpt, 10 min.

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Jim Hubbard in Person
Special Event Tickets $12

Saturday October 17 at 8pm

Two Marches

Directed by Jim Hubbard. US 1991, video, color, 9 min.


Directed by Nino Rodriguez. US 1991, video, color, 7 min.

Testing the Limits: NYC

Directed by Testing the Limits Collective. US 1987, video, color, 28 min.

Safe Sex Slut

Directed by Carol Leigh (Scarlot Harlot). US 1987, video, color, 3 min.

Steam Clean

Directed by Richard Fung. Canada 1990, video, color, 2 min.

Laff at the Fags

Directed by Scott Heron and Eric Paulo. US 1985, video, color, 29 min.

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Harvard Film Archive • Carpenter Center • 24 Quincy Street • Cambridge MA 02138 • 617-495-4700