Working at the Institute of Cultural Inquiry for the past month has allowed me to unearth my unique relationship to the AIDS Chronicles. When I first signed onto the project, I mentioned that I wanted to learn more about LGBT history; my intent, however, was not to glean more information but to take an active role in shaping the queer narrative. With the pages of newspapers in my hands, the AIDS epidemic became less abstract. The tactile experience made my understanding of the AIDS epidemic more personal and real.
Last week we had a visitor from the Museum of Contemporary Art and she joined two artists from the Monkey Head project along with Lise, Sue-Na, Hanna, Jed and I for a Socratic Seminar-esque conversation. One of the major threads of the discussion was focused on the artistic influence of performance. When we try and recreate history or embody an individual, the similarities in our respective situations can help us feel more connected to them in the absence of personal familiarity. We force ourselves to walk in their shoes by living in their world. In a lot of ways, I feel that my work with the AIDS Chronicles is another pathway for connecting to the past. I am reading through the front pages of the New York Times and I am simultaneously examining the headlines as a person who knows the future up until June 6, 2017, and as someone who has no knowledge of what comes next. In this manner, I am both clairvoyant and suspenseful, historic and present.
In another, less abstract sense, I am also learning a lot about specific events from the late 20-th century and the early 21-st century. I am certainly more equipped to discuss the 1994 Republican Revolution or the 2014 ebola pandemic because I read every article relating to those events from their given years.
Intellectually, this experience has been quite fulfilling.