Unleashing the Archive

December 1, 2011
Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania
Curated by Jennifer Burris in collaboration with Philadelphia FIGHT’s AIDS Library

Unleashing the ArchiveUnleashing the Archive

The Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) at the University of Pennsylvania observes the 22nd Day With(out) Art, taking place on World AIDS Day, December 1, 2011, with Unleashing the Archive. A two-part project, Unleashing the Archive reactivates archival documents as a way of addressing the history of AIDS cultural activism and direct action in the context of the present.

For the first part of the project ICA will be one of many institutions screening Untitled, a film by Jim Hodges, Encke King, and Carlos Marques da Cruz. Inspired by the filmmakers’ use of archival footage to address current issues, the second part of the project focuses on iconic images from the early days of the AIDS crisis. These graphics are drawn from the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP), a national and international non-partisan advocacy group formed in 1987; Gran Fury, an artists’ collective that served as ACT UP/NY’s unofficial “propaganda ministry”; and Philadelphia-based organizations like GALAEI (Gay and Lesbian Latino AIDS Education Initiative) and ASIAC (AIDS Services in Asian Communities).

In 1996 ACT UP/NY and Gran Fury donated their collection to the New York Public Library with explicit specifications that it remain in the public domain. Unleashing the Archive enacts this intended use by disseminating selected works throughout Philadelphia’s media, reinserting them into the city fabric. Jointly organized by the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania and Philadelphia FIGHT’s AIDS Library, and with the support of signatories from the Philadelphia community (the Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Family Planning Council, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Action AIDS, and others), we ask print and online media in the greater Philadelphia area to reproduce one of these iconic images on December 1.

Exhibition Site
Unleashing the Archive

Student groups open dialogue on HIV/AIDS
Day With(out) Art
Preview: Day With(out) Art