#InTheLoop | New MoMA PS1 Exhibit Presents Famous AIDS Activist’s Colorful Life
BY QEDC It's In Queens
Sometimes art is activism. Sometimes activism is art. Oftentimes, they mix from top to bottom.
MoMA PS1 will present a new exhibition, Gregg Bordowitz: I Wanna Be Well from Thursday, May 13, until Monday, Oct. 11.
Bordowitz, who was born in Brooklyn in 1964 but grew up in Queens, underwent a professional and personal transformation after the AIDS crisis blew up in the mid-1980s. Working with New York’s ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) and several video collectives that he co-founded, he organized protests against alleged government inaction, while advocating for health education and harm reduction. He also shot video portraits of some colorful moments.
Named after a 1977 song by the Ramones (a punk rock band from Queens), I Wanna Be Well surveys 30 years of Bordowitz’s life alongside activists, artists, friends, thinkers, and writers. Consider them investigations of identity, illness, and desire, as Bordowitz is living with AIDS just like many others in his videos.
Admission is a $10 suggested donation ($5 for students and senior citizens). MoMA PS1 is located at 22-25 Jackson Ave. in Long Island City.
The exhibition, which previously ran at the Art Institute of Chicago, was organized before COVID, but its MoMA PS1 opening was postponed due to the pandemic. Bad news, but the delay allowed Bordowitz to create a large-scale, on-site sculpture that explores parallels between COVID and AIDS, such as grief and perseverance. Modeled on Vienna’s Pestsäule, which honors those lost to the Great Plague in 1679, the piece integrates religious iconography with contemporary protest symbols.
MoMA PS1 is open from noon to 6 pm, Thursday through Monday, and until 8 pm on Saturday. To get there by subway, take the E, M, or 7 to Court Sq-23 St or the G to 21 St-Van Alst.
I Wanna Be Well was organized by Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery, Reed College and curated by Stephanie Snyder. It was organized at MoMA PS1 by former Chief Curator Peter Eleey and Assistant Curator Josephine Graf.
Images: MoMA PS1