via a&u Magazine
MCA Chicago’s “This Will Have Been” Revisits the Political Urgency of the 1980s
by Larry Buhl
by Larry Buhl
|David Wojnarowicz, Untitled (Buffalo), 1988–89. Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of Stephen Solovy Art Foundation, © 1988–89 David Wojnarowicz. Photo: Nathan Keay|
In the 2010 film Hot Tub Time Machine, one character scoffs at nostalgia for the 1980s: “We had, like, Reagan and AIDS.” The line was meant as a joke, though for many sick and dying Reagan’s lack of response to AIDS was a defining aspect of the period. Another defining aspect: art about AIDS.
|Installation view of “This Will Have Been Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s” (with General Idea’s AIDS Wallpaper), MCA Chicago (February 11–June 3, 2012). Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago, February 9, 2012|
In an exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, HIV/AIDS is a dominant theme, both implicitly and explicitly. “This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s,” covers the period from 1979 to 1992, when world politics were dominated by Reagan, Gorbachev, and Thatcher, and the body politic struggled with how to actualize the demands for social justice that sprang forth in the sixties and seventies. Early in the eighties, activists/artists and artists/activists began directing their talents toward a new demand: pay attention to a bewildering disease that was beginning to cut down people by exponentially larger numbers.
|Donald Moffett, Call the White House, 1990. Courtesy Marianne Boesky Gallery and the artist|
The exhibition reminds us that urgency and activism made their mark on the decade, even if the efforts took a different tack than in previous decades. From the anti-nuclear protest in New York’s Central Park to the mass demonstrations by ACT UP and other groups to denounce the government’s slow response to the AIDS crisis, the will to fight on behalf of marginalized voices was strong throughout the 1980s. (read more here)