Visual artist Eric Rhein presents us
with images of the men he carries
with him every day, including his
Both Sur and second speaker, artist Kate Huh, painted pictures of a crisis taking place within a deeply communal world. They described the 1980s-90s as era of ‘socialization without technology,’ in which the only way to make connections was to leave the safety of home. Communities sprang up around local watering holes and copy shops, and these allowed for the development of strong, intergenerational social networks that could both organize and support one another as the AIDS crisis grew.
|Quito Ziegler & Jack Warner|
Yet as a new wave of young people struggles to piece together a history obscured by the decimation of a generation of queer and artistic communities, they have begun to question this lack of communication, and to ask for the stories and experiences of both those who have lived (and still live) with HIV, and those who have loved them.
And so we found ourselves in a forum moving fluidly between discussions of the HIV/AIDS community to remembrances and celebration of those loved and lost during the first chapters of the AIDS crisis, each speaker allowing us tiny glimpses into the worlds in which they lived and the people we would never know. I braced myself as artist Eric Rhein and writer/performer Hana Malia prepared to address the topic that I had dreaded most, that all along I feared would break my fragile psyche into pieces; they began to speak of their enduring love for those they had lost.
I have never been good at dealing with loss. In an effort to avoid depression and paralysis I have buried my sadness deep under layers of spiritual rationalization and indifference. What was ‘meant to be’ would be, and all I had to do was keep moving. It was an unsustainable strategy at best, and the last year of my life has been an exercise in acknowledging its futility.
|Eric Rhein, Leaves, 1996-2012 - Each leaf is a "portrait" of a person who has died of AIDS"|
|Kate Huh, performers her " analog |
powerpoint" tribute to her friend
the artist John Bernd
Hana Malia’s final words best captured my feelings on that day: “I am grateful for having had people who loved me enough to make the loss of them this vivid.” The greatest gift of this forum lay in allowing us to experience the fullness of that gratitude.