Character Development à la Proust

[*I totally misunderstood what you wanted me to do with the ‘Proust Questionnaire’ and just answered the original. I get it now … you’re gonna ask me these questions in a new fresh way. Is that it? Go ahead, and we’ll link my new fresh answers here!]

hey ego sum frank (aka Dr. Prof. ego sum frank), 

I want to commend you on your new pursuit. While I’ve not yet visited the offices of MetaMorphineMachineFuriosaXXX, I imagine it to be a hybrid pharmacy and yarn shop. I even heard you all make quilts there. But before I would normally digress, let me answer these 35 questions that Proust used to ‘size up’ a character. I would like to assume the character of the difficult artist. I suppose this is somehow the real me; I’ve been called it with great regularity since I began the Luv ’til it Hurts project just over a year ago. I am starting to believe it, and therefore I’m ready to answer this particular MMMFXXX inquest. 

Proust doesn’t really float my boat, but I would like to consider his answer to the first question (in both 1890 and 1896) as I begin:

Taken from: Proust Questionnaire
  1. What is your idea of perfect happiness? Equilibrium. Not explaining to capital ‘C’ curators what broad small ‘c’ curatorship can be. The phrase ‘curatorial futures’ just happened, but I’m pretty sure it was an early morning coffee fart. 
  2. What is your greatest fear? That I’ll never get a chance to tell you what I’m working on. That perhaps I’m wrong about what art is and I’ve fooled myself, but not you. You have stopped listening and I don’t know it yet. Abandonment.
  3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? This rambling. The voices that all want to be heard at once or with slight hierarchy. I take some drugs to correct it though, don’t worry.
  4. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Their piss poor attention spans. 
  5. Which living person do you most admire? I think Robert Wilson, but only if he responds to my request in the way I want him to. My mother and father both trump Bob, but I struggle to find ways to show this admiration to them, and suppose perhaps that it is a different emotion. The name of which will come to me when I learn how to communicate better. 
  6. What is your greatest extravagance? Living between NYC and São Paulo. The things I get to do having a generation of middle class-ness behind me. 
  7. What is your current state of mind? I have a drug-addled mind. I take two pills a day for HIV and another for chronic depression. However I have proof (oral history) of my difficultness pre-dating my drug dependencies. 
  8. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Straightforwardness.
  9. On what occasion do you lie? I omit lots of information. Since people usually like it when I stop talking, this is just like quietening one or two voices down to a level that you are speaking with a two-dimensional me. I omit the details of having my iPhone stolen when my mom sees that I ordered a new one on our family plan’s insurance. But then when she masks her care for me with an ostensible concern over the phone hardware, I embellish the muggings to show her a glint of danger and work her ‘guilt bone’ for mis-applying her sympathies (to my phone instead of me) in the first place. I think on average I lie slightly more than the national index suggests. But I do not consider myself an outlier. 
  10. What do you most dislike about your appearance? I wish I could get a tan just once in my life. 
  11. Which living person do you most despise? Heidegger has come back to prove a point with Trump and Bolsonaro. I want him to die again. I want Hannah Arendt and Marielle Franco to come back to life in his place. 
  12. What is the quality you most like in a man? Most male qualities repulse me (even in myself); I’ve known that I’m a lesbian for much longer than I’ve been arguing with them. 
  13. What is the quality you most like in a woman? Tina Turner is from West Tennessee and Dolly Parton is from East Tennessee. I am from middle Tennessee. Motherhood. I like my mom too too much! I have a joke sometimes I set up by asking her if she knows how I became gay. I’ve already told you the punchline earlier in my answer. 
  14.  Which words or phrases do you most overuse? I want. 
  15. What or who is the greatest love of your life? I will not answer this question. It is a trap. Fuck you, Marcel Proust.
  16. When and where were you happiest? I imagine myself to have been an avid lap swimmer in the womb. Yesterday at a poetry reading. That’s my answer. Brooklyn. Now. 
  17. Which talent would you most like to have? I would love to have extreme right-hand dexterity on an old fashioned desk calculator. I would love to have races and finish my taxes. I would use this dexterity for many more things. 
  18. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I have this wart on my hand that no treatment seems to move. Take it away now, please.
  19. What do you consider your greatest achievement? Survival.
  20. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? I would want to be Bruno Latour’s sense of humor. Full stop. 
  21. Where would you most like to live? São Paulo and NYC, with frequent trips to Cairo and Nashville. 
  22. What is your most treasured possession? My wedding ring (the first one). I also like a horseshoe ring my dad wears, but I don’t want to inherit it ever. 
  23. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Abandonment… 
  24. What is your favorite occupation? Making things. Luv and otherwise:)
  25. What is your most marked characteristic? A subtle potbelly that situates me somewhere between bear and cub. Bruce Willis told me how sexy it was in Pulp Fiction. 
  26. What do you most value in your friends? Loyalty and long-term loyalty. 
  27. Who are your favorite writers? Kafka, Lispector, Kadare, Soyinka, Winterson, Farah. Gonna read Ocean Vuong now that he’s a MacArthur genius. 
  28. Who is your hero of fiction? Elpenor, full stop. I’m still learning the why for. I need more tutelage, Ismar Tirelli Neto. 
  29. Which historical figure do you most identify with? Howard Zinn.
  30. Who are your heroes in real life? I respect Glenn Greenwald’s work, but he is not my hero. The last Berlin Biennale, Zé Celso’s Roda Viva, and various other contemporary loudspeakers repeat the Tina Turner line and suggest ‘We Don’t Need Another Hero’ … I don’t not find an easy answer here. But because the theme is also HIV somehow, I’m gonna say South African Justice Edwin Cameron. I have some friends in Egypt who I also feel ‘hero-y’ about but whom I won’t name. 
  31. What are your favorite names? Lanier. I share middle names with Tennessee Williams. I dig it righteously. 
  32. What is it that you most dislike? Giving up. 
  33. What is your greatest regret? Not being in conversation with my former wife.
  34. How would you like to die? I would like to know my assassin, and get to advise him/her/they on how to do it. 
  35. What is your motto? Encouraging the unadvisable since 1973.

Proust’s Questionnaire taken from “35 Questions To Ask Your Characters From Marcel Proust”

LUV is an Endorser of the HIV2020 Conference in Mexico City

HIV2020: Community Reclaiming the Global Response
Mexico City, July 6-8, 2020


Human rights conditions in the United States of America (U.S.) have worsened, since the presidential election of Donald Trump. This is especially true for immigrants from Muslim, African, Caribbean and Latin American countries, as well as for people of color, people who use drugs, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and sex workers. Legal travel restrictions imposed by the U.S. on sex workers and people who use drugs, will make it very difficult for our communities to enter the country.

Against the recommendations of community advocates worldwide, including the national networks of people living with HIV in the U.S., the International AIDS Society (IAS) chose the U.S. as the site for its next International AIDS Conference in 2020. Their decision creates a dilemma for many in the global HIV movement and reveals a willingness by mainstream HIV actors to tolerate the discrimination of people from Muslim, African, Caribbean and Latin American countries, people who use drugs, sex workers, transgender people in U.S. immigration and travel policies. The decision also resurfaces questions about the importance and community-relevance of large, multi-million-dollar conferences in the face of shrinking investment in the global HIV response. The costs of medicines and other barriers to HIV prevention, care, and treatment services like stigma, discrimination, violence, and criminalization, continue to plague the HIV response worldwide.


An alliance of global key population-led networks, networks of people living with HIV, treatment activists, and our supporters, has formed to organize an alternative international community-led event. Titled, HIV2020: Community Reclaiming the Global Response, the event is scheduled to take place in Mexico City, July 6-8, 2020, and will run concurrently with the first half of the international AIDS conference. The HIV2020 alliance has decided to organize the community-led event to provide a safe alternative for individuals who cannot or will not enter the U.S. in 2020 or who cannot afford to attend AIDS2020. It will also offer new opportunities to reaffirm the leading role communities play in the global HIV response.

HIV2020 will be key population-led, inter-disciplinary, sex positive, and will focus on the following topics: community-led responses to HIV; funding and service disparities; sexual and reproductive health and rights; universal health coverage; decriminalization of HIV transmission, exposure, and non-disclosure, drug use, homosexuality, and sex work; gender equity and trans inclusion; economic and racial justice; eliminating homophobia, transphobia, and whorephobia; ending violence against cis and transgender women, gay men, sex workers, and people who use drugs; and coalition work. Specifically, HIV2020 aims to:

1. Build safe and friendly space for the equitable exchange of information, knowledge, experiences and expertise by ensuring diverse voices are heard and reflected;
2. Promote community-led solutions and good practice in sexual health and human rights;
3. Amplify community voices in calling out the inequities experienced across key populations and specific legal restrictions on some key populations’ right to freedom of movement;
4. Demonstrate the importance of meaningful involvement of communities in health and human rights responses;
5. Reaffirm community commitments and priorities to global health and human rights responses (inclusive of HIV);
6. Model an innovative approach for deliberating new research, tools, and strategies and their real-life implications, with communities as equal partners.

—Call to Action—

We are calling for advocates, community-based organizations, healthcare and services providers, researchers, public health officials, and funders to stand in solidarity with HIV2020. Collectively, we must insist on the meaningful engagement of people living with and disproportionately affected by HIV in the global response. And we must stand together against the discrimination of people from Muslim, African, Caribbean and Latin American countries, people who use drugs, sex workers, and transgender people.

—Become an Endorser—

We are seeking organizations to sign onto the above statement, as well as to issue their own statements of solidarity and to commit to disseminating information about HIV2020 as it becomes available.

Individuals are invited to participate with conversations online with the hashtag #ReclaimTheResponse

To become an endorser, sign up here.

Relatoría Sesión #4 – Arte / Fronteras

Laboratorio Luciérnagas

Relatoría 27 Julio

sesión #4   

Arte y fronteras políticas


Melissa Guevara


Laura Echeverri

Abogada derechos humanos


Melisa Guevara es artista Salvadoreña. Habló del libro “Luciérnagas en el Mozote” que contiene narraciones y testimonios sobre la masacre (1981) mas grande que ha sucedió en américa latina, 900 muertos perpetrados por el ejercito.

También nos habla del proyecto 24 Horas de fronteras abiertas, realizado por el colectivo del que hace parte, comprendido por dos colombianos, dos salvadoreños y un salvadoreño en NY. El proyecto se trata de grabar 24 capítulos relacionados cada uno a diferentes perspectivas sobre fronteras y migración, visto desde el punto de vista académico, artístico y de los inmigrantes mismos. 

Como parte de este proyecto los miembros del grupo viajaron a la frontera con Venezuela y rehicieron el camino que recorren los inmigrantes camino al interior del país, atravesando inclusive un frío páramo, una caminada inimaginablemente difícil. Nos contaron como en muchos puntos los caminantes son maltratados o ignorados producto de la xenofobia. 

Nos cuenta que en el Salvador también hay bastante desplazamiento interno. El problema grabe ahora son las pandillas. Nos cuenta que hay muchos imaginarios fantasmas sobre el país, lo que se cree, se imagina, se ha oído, lejanos a la realidad.

Se dice que debería existir un manual para migrar, si no estoy mal se habla de esto como posible proyecto artístico utópico.

Poniéndonos en contexto en centro américa nos cuenta que en Costa Rica no hay ejercito.

Alguien dice: lo que tenemos los artistas es tiempo para pensar, para apoyar y dar opiniones. Ayudamos a pensar de una forma diferente.

El migrante no tiene opciones. En los ochentas en la guerra de El Salvador se da una ola de migración hacia USA. Nacen los Maras Salvatruchos entre pandillas de otros países en USA.

Melisa y sus compañeros tienen un espacio de trabajo colaborativo. Son dos historiadores y dos artistas visuales. 

Se comentan trabajos:

  • Manifiestos de la reimaginación (imaginarios regionales)
  • Territorios conceptuales: ecología de las interfaces, matemáticas, para crear manifiestos. teniendo en cuenta el texto Capitalismo y Esquizofrenia de Deleuze y Guattari.

Generan imágenes desde la poética, el sexo, la violencia, desde términos como orgía o pogo. 

Se conocieron como equipo de investigación. Melisa también pertenece a otro colectivo: The Fire Theory. 

Se promedia que hay 3´400.000 de venezolanos en Colombia. 

Se promedia que ante las circunstancias, 300.000 personas que anteriormente habían emigrado desde Colombia a Venezuela han regresado ante la crisis. 

Históricamente las políticas migratorias en Colombia han sido cerradas.

Todos los venezolanos sueñan con volver a su país.

Se comenta al película estadounidense “un día sin mexicanos”.

Laura Echeverri, abogada experta en derechos humanos nos aclara:

Migrante es cualquier persona que vive fuera de su país de origen.

Refugiado es quien sale por emergencia. 

Existen casos de

Migración interna  (caso urgente en Colombia)

Desplazamiento forzado, que es una condición.

Desplazamiento interurbano. 

Los colombianos hemos sido refugiados en otros países en las olas de violencia y crisis económicas de los años noventas y dosmiles.

A los venezolanos se les está dando un permiso provisional de permanencia por dos años. Se llama el PEP. Les permite trabajar. Lo dan solo a personas con pasaporte y domicilio fijo, lo cual es una grande imposibilidad para ellos pues mucho carecen de esas condiciones. Los pasaportes para venezolanos están alrededor de us$300, en Venezuela mientras el salario mínimo es de US$4.00

FUPAD es una organización que trabaja por el desarrollo socioeconómico de las comunidades y le apuesta a la reconstrucción del territorio colombiano.

Laura trabaja en ACNUR la agencia de la ONU para los refugiados.

Nos contextualiza en la historia política reciente de Venezuela.

En 1998 fue la elección de Hugo Chaves, militar, que había participado en una revolución que se dio en 1992. Fue reelegido presidente en el 2000, 2006 y 2012. A partir de 2013 entra Nicolás Maduro al poder.

Venezuela sale de la convención Americana y deja de contribuir de la Convención Interamericana. 

Agosto 2015 declaración de emergencia.

Mayo 2016 El departamento de atención de desastres de Colombia es el encargado de recibir la ola de migración. 

Hay varios grupos armados y formas de violencia en Venezuela: Garimbas, Redadas, Colectivos armados, Tupamaros, Megabandas desde las cárceles, guerrillas, militares, el ELN también está en Venezuela.

Venezuela tiene una de las tazas de homicidio más altas del mundo. El 82% vive en pobreza extrema. 

En 2018 solo el 13% de la población con VIH en Venezuela recibe medicina. 

La condición de refugiados nace en la convención de 1951 como respuesta a la segunda guerra mundial.

Declaración de Cartagena. Respuesta a conflictos de Centro América.  

Más de 20.000 niños nacidos en Colombia de padres venezolanos no tienen nacionalidad ya que los consulados venezolanos están cerrados indefinidamente. Este hecho cambió recientemente.

Nos preguntamos:

Y ¿Qué se puede hacer desde las artes?

Surgen ideas como estas:

Llevar a otro lado el pensamiento y sus lógicas.

Generar espacios de empatía


como complemento de lo humano político o apolítico.

como medio de desahogo.

como espacio de reflexión y respiro.

Hablamos de una propuesta utópica, construir un espacio donde no haya fronteras. Pienso en el concepto TAZ de Hakim Bey

Camilo, que trabaja con las madres comunitarias de Bosa en Bogota dice:

“Siempre quieres irte para Barranquilla, pero si te vas extrañas tu silla”

comparte ideas:

La frontera como límite nos limita.

¿Qué se siente perder el lugar de uno?

El pensamiento como frontera.

Miedo a la usurpación del territorio.

Algunos artistas referentes para el tema

Enrique Ramírez (Chile) 

Cruzar un Muro (Crossing a Wall) es una película, inspirada en el artículo 13 de la Declaración Universal de Derechos Humanos, en la que afirma que “Toda persona tiene derecho a abandonar cualquier país, incluido el suyo, y regresar a su país”. . En esta película, una sala de espera, una oficina pública de asuntos de inmigración, ubicada en «algún lugar», es el escenario que converge todas las aspiraciones humanas de nuestro tiempo … La espera, la convicción, el anhelo y el derecho de todos a soñar. , viajar, cruzar, a la libertad de movimiento y residencia dentro de las fronteras de cada estado o al derecho de retorno a su país de origen … Todo esto se representa metafóricamente en este escenario de ficción y realidad.

Olu Oguibe (Nigeria) 

“Monument to Strangers and Refugees” 

Santiago Sierra (España)

“Los penetrados” estuvo dividido en ocho actos de sexo en vivo, cada uno tenía una combinación de género y etnia distinta. La idea era crear un mundo artificial que simulara las comunidades donde han ocurrido procesos de mestizaje.

Artur Żmijewski (Polonia)

 Liliana Porter (Argentina)

Hasan Sharif (Dubai) 

Sandalias y cable, 2009

Teresa Margolles (México),

La artista mexicana Teresa Margolles propone una profunda reflexión sobre el drama de la violencia machista, con la vista puesta en Bolivia y México, con la exposición “Sobre la sangre”.

Mario Opazo (Colombia)


Daniel Santiago Salguero (Colombia)

Convención de territorios y desplazamientos. 2012

De la mano de una abogada experta en derechos humanos redactamos un texto jurídico ficcional dónde se declara que en el año 2046 todos los habitantes de la tierra pueden desplazarse libremente por el territorio terrestre y asumir como lugar de residencia el lugar de su elección sin necesidad de visas ni permisos. El texto fue impreso en una placa y emplazado en el espacio público en Bogotá. Aquí acudo a las ficciones y a los juegos con el tiempo para darle la posibilidad de ser a algo que desde nuestro tiempo parece absolutamente ridículo. Este proyecto responde al sentimiento de impotencia de millones de personas a quienes les es negada la movilidad entre países. 



July 17th Report

session #4   

Art and political borders


Melissa Guevara


Laura Echeverri

Human Rights Lawyer


Melisa Guevara is a Salvadoran artist. She spoke of the book “Liciérnagas in Mozote,” which contains narrations and testimonies of the largest massacre (1981) that has occurred in Latin America, 900 people killed by the army.

She also speaks to us about the 24 hours of open borders project, realized by the collective that she is part of, made up of two Colombians, two Salvadorans and one Salvadoran in NY. The project seeks to record 24 chapters, each one related to different perspectives on borders and migration, seen from an academic and artistic point of view, as well as from the immigrants themselves.

As part of this project, the members of the group traveled to the border with Venezuela and retraced the path that immigrants make into the country, also going across cold moors, a walk that is unimaginably difficult. They told us about how at many points the walkers were mistreated or ignored as a result of xenophobia. 

She tells us that in El Salvador there is also a lot of internal displacement. The serious problem now are the gangs. She tells us that there are many imaginary ghosts about the country, what is believed, imagined, heard, far from reality.

She says that there should exist a migration manual, it is spoken of as a possible utopic artistic project.

As she brings us into the context of Central America, she tells us that Costa Rica does not have an army.

Someone says: what we have as artists is time to think, support, and give our opinions. We help to think in a different way.

The migrant does not have options. In the eighties during the war in El Salvador there is a wave of migration to the USA. the Maras Salvatruchos are born among the gangs and in other countries and the USA.

Melisa and her partners have a space for collaborative work. They are two historians and two visual artists.

Works are commented on:

  • Manifestos of the reimagination (regional imaginaries)
  • Conceptual territories: the ecology of interfaces, math, to create manifestos. having in mind the text Capitalism and Schizophrenia by Deleuze and Guattari.

They generate images ranging from poetics, sex, violence, to terms such as orgies and pogo.

They met each other as a research team. Melisa is also part of another collective: The Fire Theory.

It was estimated that there are about 3,400,000 Venezuelans in Colombia.

It was estimated that due to the circumstances, 300,000 people who had emigrated from Colombia to Venezuela have returned because of the crisis.

Historically, the immigration policies in Colombia have been enclosed.

All Venezuelans dream of returning to their country.

Someone comments on the USA film “un día sin mexicanos”

Laura Echeverri, lawyer expert in human rights clarifies to us:

Migrant is any person who lives outside of their country of origin.

Refugee is who must leave due to an emergency

There are cases of

Internal migration (urgent case in Colombia)

Forced displacement, which is a condition.

Interurban displacement.

Colombians have been refugees in other countries during the waves of violence and economic crises of the 90s and 2000s.

Venezuelans are receiving a provisional permit to stay for two years. It is called the PEP. It allows them to work. It is only given to people with a passport and fixed residency, which makes it less possible for them as many do not meet these conditions. Venezuelan passports cost around US$300 in Venezuela, while the minimum wage is of US$4,00.

FUPAD is an organization that works for the socioeconomic development of communities and aims at the reconstruction of the Colombian territory.

Laura works at ACNUR, the UN agency for refugees.

She contextualizes us in the recent political history of Venezuela.

In 1998 there was Huge Chaves’ election, a military man, who had participated in a revolution that took place in 1992. He was reelected as president in 2000, 2006 and 2012. From 2013 on, Nicolás Maduro is in power.

Venezuela leaves the American convention and ceases to contribute to to the Interamerican Convention.

August 2015 declaration of emergency.

May 2016 the Department of attention to disasters in Colombia is in charge of receiving the wave of migration.

There are many armed groups and types of violence in Venezuela: Garimbas, Redadas, armed Collectives, Tupamaros, Megabandas from jails, guerrillas, military people, the ELN is also in Venezuela.

Venezuela has one of the highest homocide rates in the world. 82% of the country lives in extreme poverty. 

In 2018, only 13% of the population with HIV received medicine.

The condition of the refugees is born in the convention of 1951, as a response to the second world war. 

Declaration of Cartagena. Response to conflicts in Central America.

More than 20,000 children born in Colombia from Venezuelan parents do not have the nationality, since the Venezuelan consulates have been closed indefinitely. This fact changed recently.

We ask ourelves:

And what can be done in the arts?

Ideas come up, such as these:

To take the thought and its logics over to the other side.

To generate spaces of empathy.


as a complement to the political and apolitical human. 

as a means of relief.

as a space for reflection and breathing.

We spoke of a utopic proposal, of building a space in which there are no borders. I think of the concept of TAZ by Hakim Bey 

Camilo, who works with the community mothers from Bosa in Bogotá, says:

“You always want to go to Barranquilla, but once you go you start missing your seat”

shares ideas: 

The border as a limit limits us.

What does it feel like to lose one’s place?

The thought as border.

Fear of territory usurpation.

Some artist references in the theme

Enrique Ramírez (Chile)

Crossing a Wall is a movie, inspired by article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which affirms that “All people have the right to leave any country, including their own, and to return to their country.” In this movie, a waiting room, a public workshop on migration issues, located “somewhere,” are scenarios that converge all human aspirations of our time… The waiting, the conviction, the desire and the right that everyone has to dream. , traveling, crossing, the liberty of movement and of residency at the border of each state, or the right to return to their country of origin … All of this is represented metaphorically in a scenario of fiction and reality.

Olu Oguibe (Nigeria) 

“Monument to Strangers and Refugees”

Santiago Sierra (Spain)

“Los penetrados” was divided into eight acts of live sex, each one with a different combination of genders and ethnicities. The idea was to create an artificial world that simulated communities in which processes of mixing have occurred. 

Artur Zmijewski (Poland)

Liliana Porter (Argentina)

Hasan Sharif (Dubai)

Sandalias y cable, 2009

Teresa Margolles (Mexico),

The Mexican artist Teresa Margolles proposes a profound reflection on the drama of macho violence, looking at Bolivia and Mexico, with the exhibition “Sobre la sangre.”

Mario Opazo (Colombia) 


Daniel Santiago Salguero (Colombia)

Convention of territories and displacements. 2012

At the hands of a human rights lawyer, we wrote out a fictitious text in which it is declared that in the year of 2046 all of the inhabitants of earth will be able to move freely through terrestrial territory and assume, as a place of residency, the place of his/her choice, without the necessity of visas or permits. The text was printed out on a board and placed in Bogotá’s public space. Here I turn to fictions and to time games in order to give it the possibility of being something that, during our current time, appears absolutely ridiculous. This project responds to the feeling of impotence of millions of people to whom mobility between countries is denied. 

HIV+ in São Paulo

You’ve all heard about the gay content shows being cancelled or censored all over Brasil. Maybe you heard of the Sexualities show at MASP a couple years back as well. MASP is a big institution. It gets big-named curators. And a lot of attention. 

Just now there is a theatre piece on HIV being censored in São Paulo. 

I came up with the Queer City (or Cidade Queer) a project within as a response to contracting HIV in São Paulo a few years before. I am happy with how Cidade Queer performed as a project. During its span in 2015/16, research would have been done for the forthcoming Sexualities show at MASP. In 2017 we were still making programming with a strong Canadian partner. I had a part-time job with that organization, resulting from a ten-year grant-receiving relationship during which I also served as creative director to some major foundation programs. I deployed a 20-year global cultural network to each program I took on for the Canadian organization. I forgot my HIV meds on one of my many international trips in 2017 working for the foundation. I asked for a ‘cost of living allowance’ /COLA-related increase on my next contract near the end of 2017. It was related to the cost of international travel insurance that would cover medication replacement. I was pouting about this once over dinner with a friend, an HIV+ medical doctor. He responded that he’d lost his medical post the week after he presented ideas on a panel at the Queer City finale, an international ball and awareness-raising day on a range of ‘queer’ issues. In that I understood that I was not alone. I recently got to go to Egypt and on way back met an exiled Egyptian activist living with his partner in Paris. He raised his voice about the government stalling his HIV meds, and he was beaten up one night in his apartment. Other serious danger signals happened: threats. They left to Paris and began advocacy work on the situation in Egypt and Middle East. I spoke to a Mexican artist who moved to Berlin after falling blind due to lack of access to HIV meds. These stories pile up as I survey my peers on their regions and conditions in preparation for Luv ’til it Hurts. 

Back around the end of Queer City and its ATAQUE ball in September 2016, I gave an interview to Brazilian Elle on the São Paulo Ballroom and Voguing scene. I specifically asked them to mention my HIV status. I specifically asked the journalist to state that I contracted HIV in São Paulo. And, this was the catalyst for creating and producing the programme. When I read the article this detail had been excluded. Then sometime in the same 2017 period was the Sexualities show at MASP until early 2018. I asked a Mexican magazine if it wanted a review, given that the show had a Mexican curator. The resulting review (after my two visits to the show) was declined. I pitched again to a Polish, US and another thematic ‘art leaks’ online journal. There was something I was doing in my rejected article akin to concrete poetry. I stated over and over throughout the article that I contracted HIV in São Paulo in the previous few years. I talked about gay white male privilege. I asked the publication curator why our research output, Queer City: A Reader made with Publication Studio São Paulo) hadn’t been considered for the publication table. The one that secures publications with fishing line. I asked in my article why the word or acronym HIV did not appear much (or at all, I think). A Colombian artist asked me in NYC how the show was, and I told him I hated it. Or rather that I had a beef with it I explained in a journal article. He told me the curator wouldn’t like that. I think he meant the Mexican one. 

In the article I attempt to share some of the early signs of Brazil’s cultural revolution. I share the article (see below) with you today in protest of the theatre piece’s censorship. Caixa Cultural, you have a responsibility to help a closing society stay open at the cultural bridge-points, these ‘cultural’ spaces that you fund through public (Lei Rouanet and other channels) tax-relief incentivized funds. Please do your part to keep HIV in an open conversation. Some of the anecdotes I speak of in this crônica are related to stigma. Something that is often invisible, dormant, and awaiting ‘fresh air’ to displace and evolve society’s sensibilities. One of the ways to offer that fresh air to HIV-related stigma is an open conversation. I contracted HIV in São Paulo just a few years ago, and I am your public. 

As a reaction and way-to-process my own feelings about HIV, I created the Luv ’til it Hurts project. the very first event was an organic public event in Philadelphia with Amber Art & Design, a public art and social justice-focused collective. In fact Amber Art visited São Paulo as residents to, during which time the project gained a ‘Neighborhood Museum’ concept and space (an apartment above the lunch counter) for the next year of programming. On May 24, 2018 Luv ’til it Hurts was supposed to have its open meeting / planning discussion at beginning of two-year process) at the Strawberry Mansion, a community space for which Amber Art & Design was commissioned to make programming. As the date for the event approached an Amber member told me that there was some opposition to an HIV-themed event at the Strawberry Mansion site. That we would like have the event at Amber’s studio instead. It was a beautiful community meal with people traveling from NYC. Some of us gathered at an Amber member’s house the night before, and a leader from the HIV activism world in NYC cooked food for both dinner and the next day’s community lunch. Others came down the morning of. From memory there was a range of folks from Philly, a member of a NYC-based architectural / public space collective, a medical doctor/professor visiting the NYC AIDS Institute from the University of São Paulo, Taiwanese artist Kairon Liu, Sebastien the co-founder of Residency Unlimited and now RiVET, an independent journalist and others. At the end of the day we have some ice cream and beer on porch of the Strawberry Mansion. 

While we had not had the whole day event there, there was some triumph in spending the last hours there before some of us took the bus back to NYC. Later, on August 20th we had another community meeting on the occasion of Black Pride and visiting members of House of Zion Brazil and Coletivo Amem (São Paulo) hosted by Residency Unlimited. Something I want to remember for a future crônica.

I contracted HIV in São Paulo just a few years ago, and I am your public. 


Relatoría Sesión #3 – Arte / VIH

Laboratorio Luciérnagas
Relatoría 13 Julio

sesión #3
Arte / VIH

Fernando Arias
José Fernando Serrano
Juan Betancurth


Fernando habló de su proyecto de residencias Más arte más acción. Dice que para el arte debe accionar. También habló de la importancia de la crítica

En diálogo con José Fernando se tocaron los siguientes temas:

Activismo / Violencia / LGBTI / proceso de paz / activismo LGBTI en Colombia / LGBTI con la paz (ahí se trabajó el tema Venezuela)

La historia e historias del VIH en general en relación a la migración

El VIH o SIDA fue llamado en un comienzo la enfermedad de las tres haches (Haitianos, Homosexuales, Heroinómanos).

Conceptos: MIGRACIÓN – INVACIÓN (África: a Suráfrica venían de Mozambique)
Paralelo a la idea africana de invasión.

Activismo – VIH La idea de lo Queer nació del activismo VIH

Thatcher – Reagan : ignoraron la enfermedad

el performance – la acción – el cuerpo

memorizar los proceso y el olvido (el deseo consciente de olvidar) (tal vez no queremos recordar)

La relación enfermedad – muerte (hace 30 años, ¿ahora?)

Pensamos cómo ha cambiado (a nivel de enfermedad, y a nivel de percepción social) le relación con el VIH entre los 80´s y la actualidad

Idea: El terror como concepto coreográfico. En época de terrorismo (limpieza social)

Kevin: el VIH como castigo religioso (piensa la gente popularmente)
Defensa de derechos de salud


Memorias legales, memorias personales, memorias sociales

De qué se habla, de qué no se hablar

Quizás la medicina avanzó pero no la labor médica

Juan Betancurth: El problema es falta de información

SILENCIO como problema

Los mata mas la familia y la sociedad que la misma enfermedad

El terrorismo a la enfermedad. (Pensar en “Metáforas del Sida” de Susan Sontag.

ARTE: poder testimonial (memoria) poder de exteriorizar

Artista: Cómo en cada colectivo exploran el arte. Experiencias, experimentación, difundir, guardar memoria

Qué es el PrEP y como se usa: Colectivo LOVE lazers.

Información es poder:
21% de mujeres trans en Colombia tiene VIH


Luciérnagas Lab
June 13th report

session #3
Arte / HIV


Fernando Arias
José Fernando Serrano
Juan Betancurth


Fernando spoke of his residency project. More art more action. He said that for art it is necessary to activate.He also spoke of the importance of criticism.

In dialogue with José Fernando the following subjects were touched on: 

Activism / Violence / LGBTI / peace process / LGBTI activism in Colombia / LGBTI with peace (here the subject of Venezuela was worked on) 

The history and histories of HIV in general, in relation to migration

HIV and AIDS was initially called the three “h’s” (Haitians, Homosexuals, Heroin-addicts).

Concepts: MIGRATION — INVASION (Africa: in South Africa people came from Mozambique)

Parallel to the African idea of invasion.

Activism — HIV The idea the Queerness was born out of HIV activism

Tatcher — Reagan : ignore the disease

the performance — the action — the body

memorize the process and the forgetting (the conscious desire to forget) (maybe we do not want to remember)

The disease — death relationship (it’s been 30 years, now?)

We think of how much it’s changed (in terms of disease, in terms of social perception), the relationship with HIV and the 80s and today

Idea: Terror as a choreographic concept. In times of terrorism (social cleaning)

Kevin: HIV as a religions punishment (people popularly believe)

Defense of health rights


Legal memories, personal memories, social memories

Of what is spoken, of what is not spoken

Perhaps medicine has advanced but not the medical labor

Juan Betancurth: The problem is the lack of information

SILENCE as a problem

Family and society kill more than the disease

Terrorism to the disease (Think of “AIDS and Its Metaphors,” by Susan Sontag) 

ART: testimonial power (memory) externalizing power 

ArtistL How art is explored in each collective. Experiences, experiments, diffuse, keep the memory

What is PrEP and how it is used: LOVE lasers collective.

Information is power:

21% of trans women in Colombia have HIV

Luv Letter, # complicated

A guy from Mexico contracted HIV. We had condomless sex. I remember this well. Some four years after our hook-up he contacted me because of Luv ’til it Hurts. He wanted to catch up. He wanted to know when I contracted HIV. He needed to dispel an idea that maybe he had carried HIV since the night of our lovemaking. I needed to react with annoyance. I did not. I needed to allow this. Also. It seemed. I had allowed it before in fact. This inquisition into memory and desire and night and sex and lovemaking. It was in a graveyard, a detail I should probably leave out.

My longtime partner in NYC is a black man. He contracted HIV since we broke up. I think I have to register this. 

I contracted HIV in São Paulo, therefore I could not have passed it to the Mexican guy … on a timeline this does not add up. My former partner told me of his status because of Luv and seeing it online. 

When I first contracted HIV I was with someone living with HIV. I needed to blame many things including the world itself. I blamed him. I tried to do it gently. I blamed him and he let me. Maybe he felt he needed to do that just as I needed to hear my Mexican friend in his quest for understanding. Maybe we do this. Maybe we torture ourselves, but maybe we won’t have to do that for much longer. 

Maybe I can say I’m sorry for blaming in a different way. Maybe I can try to understand something new that says thank you. Maybe that will hurt and seem unassociated. Maybe it has to. Maybe that’s lovemaking. 

Relatoría Sesión #1 – Contexto del cuerpo en las Artes

Laboratorio Luciérnagas
Relatoría 15 junio

sesión #1
Contexto del cuerpo en las Artes (para artistas y no artistas)

  • Escuchamos la pieza sonora de John Cage “canción para Marcel Duchamp”.
  • Hicimos cuadernos de notas para tomar anotaciones.
  • ¿Por qué del laboratorio? Lineamientos.
  • Cada uno habló de cómo se relaciona con los contenidos del laboratorio

Contexto del cuerpo en las artes:

Body art, Arte Conceptual, Performance, Danza, otros. El cuerpo como material.

Bruce Nauman (USA, 1941) es artista multimedia estadounidense,

Yves Klein (1928 – 1962) fue un artista francés considerado como una importante figura dentro del movimiento neodadaísta.

Fluxus es un movimiento artístico de las artes visuales en especial, pero también de la música, la literatura y la danza. Tuvo su momento más activo entre la década de los 60 y los 70 del siglo XX.

Estos fueron algunos de los miembros más importantes de Fluxus: George Maciunas, John Cage, Arman, Alan Kaprow, Joseph Beuys, Charlotte Moorman, George Brecht, Dick Higgins, Yoko Ono, Daniel Spoerri, Wolf Vostell y Robert Watts, entre otros.

Como Dada, FLUXUS escapó de toda definición y categorización.

Robert Filliou dice de FLUXUS: es un estado del espíritu, un modo de vida con soberbia libertad de pensar, expresar, elegir.

FLUXUS disuelve el arte en lo cotidiano.

John Cage (Los Ángeles, 1912Nueva York, 1992) fue un compositor, instrumentista, filósofo, teórico musical, poeta, artista, pintor, aficionado a la micología y recolector de setas estadounidense. Pionero de la música aleatoria, de la música electrónica y del uso no estándar de instrumentos musicales, Cage fue una de las figuras principales
del avant garde de posguerra.

Merce Cunninham & John Cage

Merce Cunningham (Centralia, 1919 – Nueva York, 2009) fue
un bailarín y coreógrafo estadounidense.

Marina Abramović artista serbia del performance que empezó su carrera a comienzos de los años 1970. Activa durante más de tres décadas, recientemente se ha descrito a sí misma como la “Madrina del arte de la performance”.

Martha Graham (Pittsburgh, 1894 — Nueva York, 1991) fue una bailarina y coreógrafa estadounidense de danza moderna.

Pina Bausch (Solingen 1940-Wuppertal, 30 de junio de 2009), fue una bailarina, coreógrafa y directora alemana pionera en la danza contemporánea.

Cindy Sherman ( EUA, de 1954) es una fotógrafa y directora de cine estadounidense.

Pipilotti Rist (1962, Suiza) es una reconocida videoartista.

Sophie Calle (París, 1953) es una escritora, fotógrafa, directora y artista conceptual francesa. El principal objeto de su obra es la intimidad y de modo particular la suya propia. Para ello utiliza gran diversidad de medios de registro como libros, fotografías, vídeos, películas o performances.

Contexto cuerpo artes Latinoamérica:

Pedro Lemebel (Santiago, 1952- ibídem, 23 de enero de 2015) fue un escritor, cronista y artista plástico chileno.

Hélio Oiticica (Río de Janeiro, 1937 – 1980) fue uno de los artistas plásticos brasileños más innovadores del siglo XX y actualmente es reconocido como una figura clave en el desarrollo del arte contemporáneo..

Lygia Clark (Belo Horizonte 1920 – Río de Janeiro 1988) fue una artista brasileña, co-fundadora del Movimiento Neoconcreto, comprometida con redefinir la relación entre el arte y el ser humano a nivel conceptual y sensorial. Realizó pinturas, esculturas y acciones sensoriales vinculadas al arte y a la psicoterapia.

María Teresa Hincapié (Armenia, Colombia, 1956 – Bogotá, Colombia, 2008) fue una artista de expresión de danza corporal y performance colombiana.

María Evelia Marmolejo Cali 1958. Es una artista feminista colombiana radical, más tarde con sede en Madrid y la ciudad de Nueva York. Se le atribuye la primera obra escénica de performance feminista en Colombia, en 1981

Helena producciones:

María José Arjona (Colombia, 1973)
María José Arjona es considerada la artísta performática más importante de Colombia. Ha llevado su trabajo a Italia, Alemania, Austria, entre otros países.

“El arte debe volver a darle valor al cuerpo femenino”

Regina José Galindo (Ciudad de Guatemala, 1974) es una artista
visual, performer y poeta guatemalteca especializada en body-art. Su obra se caracteriza por su explícito contenido político, reconociéndose a sí misma como feminista.

Ana Mendieta (La Habana 1948Nueva York 1985) fue una artista conceptual, escultora, pintora y videoartista nacida en Cuba y criada en Estados Unidos. Es especialmente reconocida por sus obras de arte y performances en el marco del land art (arte terrestre).

Francis Alÿs es un artista multidisciplinario nacido en Amberes, Bélgica en 1959. Vive y trabaja en la Ciudad de México desde 1986.

José Esteban Muñoz (1967 – 2013) fue un académico norteamericano de nacionalidad cubana en los campos de estudios de rendimiento, cultura visual, teoría queer, estudios culturales, y teoría crítica. Su primer libro, Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics (1999) examina la performatividad, activismo, y supervivencia de las personas queer y minorías étnicas a través de la óptica de estudios de performatividad.

Rafa Esparza (born in 1981)

Rafa Esparza es una artista de performance estadounidense que vive en Los Ángeles. Su trabajo a menudo toma la forma de actuaciones físicamente exhaustivas e instalaciones construidas con ladrillos de adobe.

Los siguientes nombres y conceptos fueron sugeridos por los participantes del laboratorio:

Astrid Hadad (n. Chetumal, 26 de febrero de 1957) es una actriz, cabaretera, y cantautora mexicana de ascendencia mayalibanesa. Es creadora del heavy nopal o neo ranchero, un estilo de performance musical de fusión que caracteriza sus presentaciones

Sergio Zevallos: 1962 en Lima, Perú. Reside en Berlin, Alemania. Pertenecía al grupo Chaclayo.

Jesusa Rodríguez Ramírez (Ciudad de México, 1955) es una directora de teatro, actriz, artista de performance y actualmente Senadora de la República Mexicana por el partido Morena.

Mapa Teatro. compañía de teatro contemporáneo y artes visuales, Bogotá.

Nadia Granados 1978 Bogotá. Artista de performance colombiana que usa su cuerpo en combinación con tecnologías multimedia para explorar las relaciones entre la representación de la violencia estatal.

• Las notas, fechas e informaciones de los artistas fueron obtenidas de google y Wikipedia en su mayoría.


Luciérnagas Lab
June 15th report

session #1
The context of the body in the arts (for artists and non-artists)

  • We listened to John Cage’s sound piece “Music for Marcel Duchamp” 
  • We made notebooks to take notes on.
  • Why the lab? Guidelines.
  • Each one spoke of how he/she relates to the contents of the lab.

The context of the body in the arts:

Body art, Conceptual art, Performance, Dance, others. The body as material.

Bruce Nauman (USA, 1941) is a multimedia artist from the United States.

Yvez Klein (1928 – 1962) was a French artist, considered an important figure in the neodadaist movement.

Fluxus is an artistic movement in the visual arts in particular, but also of in music, literature, and dance. It had its most active moment between the decade of the 60s and 70s of the 20th century.

These were some of the most important Fluxus members : George Maciunas, John Cage, Arman, Alan Kaprow, Joseph Beuys, Charlotte Moorman, George Brecht, Dick Higgins, Yoko Ono, Daniel Spoerri, Wolf Vostell and Robert Watts, among others.

Like Dada, FLUXUS escaped from all definition and categorization.

Robert Filliou says about FLUXUS: a spiritual state, a way of life with superb freedom of thought, expression, and election.

FLUXUS dissolves art into the everyday.

John Cage (Los Angeles, 1912 – New York, 1992) was a composer, instrumentalist, philosopher, music theorist, poet, artist, painter, mycology enthusiast, and collector of mushrooms from the United States. Pioneer of aleatoric music, electronic music, and non-standard uses of musical instruments, Cafe was one of the main figures of the post-war avant-garde. J

Merce Cunninham & John Cage

Merce Cunningham (Centralia, 1919 – New York, 2009) was a dancer and choreographer from the United States.

Marina Abramovic is a Serbian performance artist who started her career in the beginning of the 1970s. Active for more than three decades, she has recently described herself as the “Godmother of performance art.”

Martha Graham (Pittsburgh, 1894 — New York, 1991) was a modern dance dancer and choreographer from the United States.

Pina Bausch (Solingen 1940-Wuppertal, June 30th 2009), was a dancer, choreographer and German director pioneer in contemporary dance.

Cindy Sherman (USA, 1954) is a photographer and movie director from the United States.

Pipilotti Rist (1962, Switzerland) is a recognized video artist.

Sophie Calle (Paris, 1953) is a French writer, photographer, director and conceptual artist. The main subject of her works is intimacy and, in particular, her own. She makes use of a great diversity of mediums for recording, such as books, photography, videos, movies, or performances.

Latin America body arts context:

Pedro Lemebel (Santiago, 1952 – Ibídem, January 23 of 2015) was a Chilean writer, chronicler and artist.

Hélio Oiticica (Rio de Janeiro, 1937 – 1980) was one of the most innovating Brazilian artists of the 20th century, and is currently recognized as a key figure in the development of contemporary art..

Lygia Clark (Belo Horizonte 1920 – Rio de Janeiro 1988) was a Brazilian artist, co-founder of the Neoconcrete Movement, committed to redefining the relationship between art and human beings, in a conceptual and sensorial level. She realized a lot of paintings, sculptures, and sensorial actions related to art and psychotherapy.

María Teresa Hincapié (Armenia, Colombia, 1956 – Bogotá, Colombia, 2008) was a Colombian artist of body dancing expression and performance.

María Evelia Marmolejo Cali 1958. Is a radical Colombian feminist artist, later based in Madrid and New York City. The first scenic work of feminist performance in Colombia is attributed to her, in 1981

Helena producciones:

María José Arjona (Colombia, 1973)

María José Arjona is considered the most important performance artist in Colombia. She has taken her work to Italy, Germany, Austria, among other countries.

“ art must go back to giving value to the female body”

Regina José Galindo (Guatemala City, 1974) is a Guatemalan visual artist, performer, and poet, specialized in body-art. Her work is characterized by its explicit political content, recognizing herself as a feminist. 

Ana Mendieta (La Habana, 1948 — New York 1985) was a conceptual artist, sculptor, painter and video artist  born in Cuba and raised in the United States. She is especially recognized for her works of art and performances within the context of land art.

Francis Alys is a multidisciplinary artist born in Antwerp, Belgium in 1959. He lives and works in Mexico City since 1986.

José Esteban Muñoz (1967 — 2013) was a North American academic of Cuban nationality in the fields of performance, visual culture, queer theory, cultural studies, and critical theory. His first book, Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics (1999) examines performativity, activism, and survival of queer people and ethnic minorities, through the optics of performance studies. 

Rafa Esparza (born in 1981)

Rafa Esparza is a performance artist from the United States who lives in Los Angeles. His work often takes the shape of physically exhausting actions and installations built with adobe tiles. 

The following names and concepts were suggested by the lab’s participants:

Astrid Haddad (b. Chetumal, February 26th of 1957) is a Mexican actress, cabaret dancer, and singer-songwriter of Mayan-Lebanese descent. She is the creator of heavy nopal or neo ranchero, a style of fusion musical performance that characterizes her presentations.

Sergio Zevallos: 1962 in Lima, Peru. He lives in Berlin, Germany. He belonged to the Chaclayo group.

Jesus Rodriguez Ramírez (Mexico City, 1955) is a theater director, actress, performance artist and currently Senator of the Mexican Republic for the Morena party. 

Mapa Teatro. contemporary theatre company and visual arts, Bogotá.

Nadia Granados 1978 Bogotá. Colombian performance artist who uses her body in combination with multimedia technologies to explore the relationships between the representation of state violence.

• The majority of the artists’ notes and informations were obtained from google and Wikipedia. 

1st ‘About’ page: A discussion to be accountable to

A discussion to be accountable to …

Luv ’til it Hurts is about HIV and stigma.

Discussion, campaign, mechanism, agency.

All of these words describe the vision for Luv ‘til it Hurts. Yet, if it becomes nothing more than a discussion to be accountable to, then it has succeeded.

It should have this accountability first and foremost. And, thereby, remember the work (art and otherwise) that came before it.

As a porous container, it aspires to ‘hold’ people together long enough for essential introductions and exchange of ideas.

Curating, Healthcare, Cultural Movements, New Support Strategies. etc.

Whoever enters this ‘space’ may stick around and help give it shape over a two-year period. ‘Taking responsibility’ is up for grabs.

As a campaign (simply meaning the cacophony of multiple voices) it will generate resources. They will be used to maintain the container and will be shared strategically. Luv lasts two years because it is a guided experiment in organizational form that aspires to become a robust support mechanism working for and with HIV+ artists and their peers from both within and outside the arts.

It is the third durational, rights-themed, multi-stakeholder project launched by Todd Lanier Lester. Because it follows a loose ‘methodology’ it is also intended as a form of research, something its authors hope will become clearer over time. At the very least, it will report back at the end of each of four six-month quarters. Please stay tuned.

Think Twice Questions for Luv

My name is Todd Lanier Lester and I started the project, Luv ‘til it Hurts, a two-year project on HIV & stigma. The Think Twice Collective has agreed to join the LUV ‘coalition’ … I’ll explain what that is along the way, but just wanted to say thanks for being in an open-ended conversation with me. The last project I co-made, was a five-year investigation of the right to the city in São Paulo, and also took a collective form. I enjoy the pace and other characteristics of collective decision-making. freeDimensional, a 10-year project on free expression and artist shelter was the first of a three-project set that have spanned almost 20 years. What connects the three projects is that they are all durational, rights-focused and open to multiple stakeholders. 

I really appreciate the questions Think Twice came up with and appreciate your attention to my project. 

Paula Nishijima (a Think Twice member) and I met in Milano at ENGAGE, a Public School for Social Engagement in Artistic Research hosted in October 2017 by Via Farini. Paula is Brazilian and I live in Brazil, so we started there. That was followed by a Skype chat with the group in Leiden (Netherlands), and an ensuing discussion about our ‘projects’ being in dialogue. I’d like to dive into the questions:

1- What is “Luv ’til it Hurts”? Why did you start it? 

LUV is a two-year project on HIV and stigma. In the FEATURES section entitled Field Notes, I discuss some of the parameters I apply for the making of a durational, rights-focused, multi-stakeholder work. I share the ups and downs of this style of ‘making’, and try to point to ‘spots’ of learning from both my previous projects and those of other artists. I plan to keep this section going throughout the two years. In fact, these are the field notes for a book I’m writing that focuses on methodology and looks at a twenty-year period of such art making. It’s a different and related project I’m working on as I shift more into writing. I first presented the ‘hinge’ in my work between LUV and some research writing I’ve embarked upon at the Economy and Society Summer School, a weeklong doctoral symposium co-hosted by University College Cork and the Waterford Institute of Technology, bringing together scholars from diverse disciplines to discuss fresh perspectives on ‘the economy’; the market, the state, production, consumption, redistribution, value, money, work, commodities, poverty, welfare, inequality. 

[*Paula, when we met in 2017, was not quite over yet (and still isn’t:). I was already rabidly note-taking for the book, but probably didn’t yet know LUV was going to be a project in this series. I have had the idea for an HIV-related project ever since I contracted HIV in São Paulo some five years ago. In Milan I showed the Queer City film, representing an important ‘episode’ of, and actually the most rhizomatically robust of the various sub-projects/foci that comprise the five-year research platform of on the right to the city. In fact, Queer City continues still in various forms. Queer City was the way I began experimenting with HIV themes in the hybrid artistic director/curator/ administrator/producer role I assume for durational projects that I set off and forecast end dates. I proposed Queer City ‘into’ just as any of the multiple stakeholders could propose and develop ideas into action. When I use the words ‘producer’ and ‘action’ herewith, I’m referring to Walter Benjamin’s 1934 address at the Institute for the Study of Fascism (Paris), The Author as Producer.]

I can jokingly say that I’m tired of making multi-stakeholder projects. But I also plan to have fun with the last one, Luv ‘til it Hurts. What I mean is that I plan to use some of the methods and tactics from the first two projects in order to lean-down bureaucratically and shorten (to two years) the LUV project … rather abstractly. But at the same time, LUV is the most personal of the three projects I refer to here. I started it because I’m HIV+. I started it because it is personal. But, too, I believe it can have a ‘benefit’ (as such) on a macro level. 

2- How did LTIH start? 

In February of 2018 I received an unsolicited R&D grant. I had mentioned to a colleague in philanthropy that I planned to make a project, but I didn’t say what it was. This was an exciting encouragement, and frankly the first time in my 20-year practice that I have received money in advance to work on a project. That money was used for making a website and paying people. Most of the money was redistributed as re-grants to initiatives such as Humans as Hosts, Coletivo Amem, the Houses of Zion and LaBeija, participation in the 2019 holiday Love Positive Women (a project by artist, Jessica Lynn Whitbread), creation of the LUV game with a team of Egyptian designers, etc. In discussion with Taiwanese artist, Kairon Liu we decided to make a limited edition postcard set from his Humans as Hosts project, which he carried to the 2018 International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam. In a very useful way, this served to launch the two-year period of the project, and it therefore ends around the time of the next international AIDS conferences in 2020 in Mexico DF and San Francisco

I mention above (when referring to Queer City) that I have the prerogative to create/direct/lead a portion of the LUV project and invite others to participate. This includes corresponding with others and writing for/on the site; designing a game with other people; collaborative events; media partnership; playing the new game together; and sharing in the construction (um, conjuring) of the ‘end game’ of the project, which will be an artist-led, philanthropic device offered to the Elton John AIDS Foundation

At the same time, the projects have historically been flexible enough to accommodate the ideation and leadership of other artists, participants or stakeholders. Looking back at freeDimensional, somewhere around the midpoint, artist Sidd Joag was hired to direct the organization. One of the first things he did was to create new schematics for how freeDimensional explained how danger can affect global artists and how the project addressed this urgency. You can see visualizations in the 2011 Artist Residencies & Conflict Areas event publication, and they carried forward to illustrate our most comprehensive output (an artist safety guide) as a project, the freeDimensional AdvoKIT (download). For, there were similar ‘episodes’ led by other participants. For example, Zona da Mata is a project by artist Rodrigo Bueno who participated in one specific way focused on the environment. Another way to see this is that participated in Rodrigo’s project for the year, 2016. And, Episódio Haiti was led by Raphael Daibert who participated in all the activities of, having helped to launch the project from the beginning. This was natural as his focus is on migrations.

Here you asked me how it started and I’m about to tell you how it will end. One is that we might be able to say something about the philanthropic device by the time of the AIDS conferences. In fact, I’m working on a graphic zine with artist Niki Singleton that should be ready by February 14, Valentine’s Day 2020. By that time we will amp up our plan to reach Elton, and in the meantime someone will hopefully ‘steal this idea’ and run with it. What I’m saying is that the duration, start and end dates are both important and somewhat arbitrary. The projects don’t stop on a dime. And, if they are launched well–at least inter-planetarily or intergalactically–they keep advancing even after the end date. These ‘durations’ allow for a form of accountability to the stakeholders, communities and demographics that the projects include and address. 

3- Why is it an “interplanetary” project? and why “galactic”?

I am working with an old friend. Here is where I brag on a buddy, Adham Bakry. He is mentioned in this article, Street Art Illuminates Egypt’s Lingering Problems. Check him out. When freeDimensional was moving around (it had mobile desks for a year each in ‘residency’ in the Middle East and Cairo specifically at the Townhouse Gallery and South America via a residency at Casa das Caldeiras in São Paulo) I met Adham and he did some of the original design work for freeDimensional in Cairo, joining the team for the remainder of the project. He then drew the first schematic for me when dreaming up  There was a lot going on in both regions at the time in residency field, and these two cities provided a look into the regions. Around that time I led the writing of desk studies on residency practice in each region for some partners whose names I forget. I should find those two documents for my site:)

The idea for came, of course during my freeDimensional residency in 2008 at Casa das Caldeiras. My friend Joel Borges who created TodoDomingo at Casa das Caldeiras (as well as its international residency and various community programs) both welcomed me on that 2008 residency and has been a part of the ideation for from the beginning. He serves as the President of the Associação Espaço Cultural Lanchonete (the cultural association/ entity under Brazilian law) until now.

So for one, I’m working with partners and friends who have been stakeholders to past projects. I’m asking them to perform in certain ways, perhaps building on past actions. I raise money to pay them:) I’ve asked them to help guide me … to help me get the maximum out of the idea based on how we know how to work together. 

Adham and I know how to make interplanetary and intergalactic projects. I had to urge him to give me first designs early and not perfect them. I wanted it a little raw. But too we agreed on a face-to-face design session that was this past March. I would go to Egypt (Port Said) and see into his current project, a popular heritage museum with a revolutionary mentality. Pedagogy and learning and local change. I would engage his project at the level I wanted him to engage mine. We would eat fish together at the Suez Canal and take our bikes on the ferry to Asia. I would understand what he’s going through, and he would understand the same in me. We would care for each other at that basic level. We would reconnect a little before making work together. We would break bread… to go with the fish. I would meet his wonderful colleagues on the museum project and revive my interest in the Arabic language. 

In the richness of ideas that comprised those days in Port Said and Cairo, an idea sprung up for a game. It came from Saif, a 23-year old guy from Port Said, but with Cairo-savvy. He said, why not model it after Exquisite Corpse, a game I’ve come to learn is played all over the world … sometimes with image continuation and others with words. Before I even understood what he meant, he gave me the scenario of going into a Cairo cafe and seeing an iconic sticker/tile on the back of a laptop, and it referencing the LUV project, or game as it were. That one would know that the person with the laptop was cool with HIV .. or something like that. You all at Think Twice are thinking about language. I was in Port Said in a café w/ Saif, Adham and others. I was acting a little queer. I had black fingernails. The manager turned off the radio, and waited for us to leave. So, Saif is not wrong to consider a ‘safe’ way to play, as such…

Or, another answer as question: Don’t you think there are enough ‘global’ things, organizations and such? If what constitutes art can sometimes be called an art world, shouldn’t we perhaps board the first spaceship out?

4- What is the aim of the “coalition”?  

The coalition is for doing exactly what we are doing. For having a discussion. You’ve asked me some questions that find me in a methodological and rather light mood. I’m heading to NYC soon to launch a publication on Artist Safety Hosting and it’s been a throw-back to some earlier ideas. The coalition is for ‘doing something’, and I’d really like for folks involved to understand what I want to do with the philanthropic device, and perhaps lend a hand. But at the very least they should play the game with us. 

5- How are you featuring this “gamification” in your work?  

Saif and I jammed on the game idea sitting in a circle of ten guys on the floor drinking the booze Adham had gotten at the airport using my ticket stub for duty free. We watched videos and smoked hash. Some of us did. I laughed at what, in Arabic, made them laugh. We spent time together. By the next day in the office Adham was ‘on it’ .. he doesn’t like the virtual side of things (preferring the street stencil), so he wasn’t thinking anonymous, multiplayer (online), but rather the logic of the game and design of the tiles. What might become iconic and end up on the back of a laptop. In Cairo or New Delhi in a cafe. Adham poo-poos the idea of a virtual game, while introducing me to ‘his game guy’ Sanjay in New Delhi, saying ‘he’s the one who can do that for you … I’m doing the first part.’

Here’s the design challenge I posed to Adham and his team. I was already almost sure I would treat the LUV project in three acts, and that Adham’s (and the ensuing game) would be ACT I. I had come to Port Said to get some work done, big picture work. The challenge:

I’m making a philanthropic device in the midst of the LUV project, which should also be a discussion. We should talk about what we need, and what we can do / offer. We should make a new ‘device’ to help out. On HIV and stigma. As artists. And/or poz people. 

HIV is personal. By March I was already 9+ months into the project. I told Adham’s team that I would pull back on broad stakeholder outreach. I would seek out partners from past projects, but not specific to HIV ideas and work. I would reconfigure a team or ‘agency’ for the purpose of getting to the end(game), the device. I can say better later how Acts II and III move the process along. 

I told Adham’s team that I needed an ‘activity’, something to do with a public. Something that would enlist stakeholders in a way I’d not tried before, one in which I did not ‘front’ each conversation. The activity would allow me to ‘deploy’ the evolving process of device-making into various contexts (art world and non). It should be good. It should look nice. It should open up online, social media and PR opportunities through its application. It should stand alone. It should be fun. A game. 

It should be something so simple (perhaps more so than the philanthropic device that takes a whole two years to make) that it would open up countless new discussions that cannot be generated outside discussion. 

OK, so we (Paula N. and I) talked, and I asked if Think Twice would be interested in helping to launch the game. The game is ready. You can get the gist of it in Thank you to Lois Weaver (ample version), and if you all are game, I’ll get you a game pack in the coming weeks. We already know that it launches in Grenoble on October 25th in French and Arabic, and hopefully Bogotá on the same day with Daniel Santiago’s project, Luciérnagas. So, I’m sure we can find a unique way to engage between LUV and Think Twice in this general timeframe and direction. It could take the format we find most useful. It could work/aim toward your potential meeting next Spring on the topic of language. 

There are lots of ‘language’ angles in the project. 

I think that if you give me the ‘go ahead’, I’ll consider how to communicate the game to Think Twice as we are developing ‘packets’ for Grenoble and Bogotá, so relatively soon. We are launching the game online on this year’s World AIDS Day, December 1. As well. Think Twice and the coalition can be a part of that. Somehow. The game changes as the ACT progresses, so we should really just play, and you’ll see. 

6- What is action research and how is it developed and/or materialised in the project? 

Oh gosh, what is algebra?  I’m kidding. I was reading an article the other day that called ‘artistic research’ a discipline, area and method all in the same article without differentiating usage. Action research is perhaps related to grounded theory or various participatory methods. I figure phenomenology is a part of it. I am working on a book and PhD at the same time. The book is called Variations in Worldmaking. The PhD is in Sociology. My advisor, Maggie O’Neill has experience in action research. With all that in the ‘soup pot’, I decided to ask Maggie if she could help me tease out characteristics of my methodology, the methods I practice with, by keeping an eye on the LUV project. I produce writing on the overall book, but she knows that until the end of the two-year period (until July 2020) I have to give special attention to the final project in the three-part series. I let her know when I post new field notes online. But it is my responsibility to pull those into the research I’m working on. It is my design to have the final project, action-like hinge with the research that uses the timeframe of the three projects taken together, as well as their rights-focused themes and those taken up by other artists interviewed for the research. What a mouthful.

7- What are your other projects you inspired yourselves to when you founded LTIH? 

The artists who got together in various ways like the Treatment Action Campaign, ACT UP, VisualAIDS and many other activist and artist-led (or fully included) endeavors. I want to give a part of myself to help out. I want to do it in a way that invites others to join me. Something like that. I think at a later stage in our discussion I’ll be able to share the short list of artists I’m interviewing for the Variations book. That would be another way to answer. 

8- what’s the difference between you and these projects? 

Not much. That’s good and bad. I have a playful writing project coming called El Mejor Karate. It will have a site. It will have some things to say about the ‘splitting’ we do and don’t do as artists when we make immersive projects. Adham is involved in it. It’s coming soon. The website will be someday soon. 

9- How does this ‘personal aspect’ you mention influence the methodology or the way how you engage the stakeholders in relation to the previous two projects?

Up above I mentioned the design challenge I went to Adham and team with. Working on HIV elicits emotions amongst the artists and activists who share their stories. I want to think that multiple stories can be told through LUV. In the beginning however, I ran at it too hard. I got bruised by some of the initial engagements. In some of my field notes, I speak about this ‘emotional heat’ that I see as both essential but also to be ‘handled with care’. If this seems vague, please make sure to read the Benjamin text I’ve mentioned above. I think it is fair to say that the first two projects hold themes that affect me but don’t infect me. That’s a bit crass I suppose. I care about artist housing and safe haven, and would want it if I needed it (freeDimensional). I love cities and living in them. I pretend to live between NYC and São Paulo after all. To have my eyes open (in these two places and others I travel to) is to be in a discussion on the right to the city. But for LUV I need some space. If it gets too hot for me, I don’t produce. Ask me more, and I’ll be explicit about what I mean. The ‘art world’ (as such) is not a place that automatically gives care. I think one needs to have support to make a project that touches on the ‘autobiographical’ … I chose sociology for its ability to accommodate personal narrative. 

10- What would you say is the necessary quality, in order to be able to contribute in the LTIH projects? 

Help me make some noise. Ask hard /nice questions like these. Let’s find a discursive way to launch the game together in your context. I travel to the Netherlands a lot. I’ve spoken at Leiden once. In the process of my research in Cork, we are engaging the gallery at the university. When I was last in Cork (second city in Ireland), I was on Grindr and someone thanked me for sharing my HIV status. When I talk to my colleagues in Cork (the ones involved with my research), I ask them, ‘what do we need here?’ There is a conversation to be had in Cork, Ireland. There is a conversation to be had in Leiden, Netherlands. Please oh, please do not let us keep this at the treetops of discussion. With an old colleague I’m discussing how the game travels with a theatre piece around Zimbabwe. Let me discuss now with you, new colleagues how the game plays out in your context. 

11- How can interested people contribute to the project and collaborate with LTIH?

Make LUV.

The Gathering

Company – Self Portrait
1998, silver gelatin print, 20×16 inches


In “A Conversation with Eric Rhein,” an interview on this website, Eric was asked about some writing he’d done: a text which corresponds with many of the themes in his recent exhibition, Lifelines. Eric followed-up with this memoir, written in 1998, and we are happy that he’s shared it with us here.

The Gathering
by Eric Rhein

        I’ve been pushed back from the borders of death, redeemed to life—escorted by the same spirits who comforted me on the precipice of demise. I’ve been awakened from a turbulent dream, or so it seems; awakened by a prince, with a pharmaceutical kiss.

        I had aged prematurely—ravaged through the course of ten years with H.I.V. When testing positive, my 27-year-old body was still that of a boy, fresh from college; then it became that of an old man, leapfrogging adulthood to decay. Now, having been restored to health, I wear a man’s body that I’d lost sight of. It’s strangely unfamiliar.

        The spirits of my Kentucky ancestors are with me. Their wisdom—imbibed from only seemingly simpler lives and times—resonate in my devotion to the autumn leaves that I revere as tributes to fallen friends.

        My Granny Corinne said the autumn leaves wear brilliant colors like their best Sunday school dresses to remind us of nature’s glory, even as they die. Granny Corinne is ever-present. I remember when she died—I was less then five and unafraid, as I sat alone—wearing short pants and a bow tie—in the parlor of our ancestral home. She was laid-out for her wake—like Snow White in her deep sleep. The morning light was passing through the parlor windows, golden like the turning leaves. The parlor was divided from adjoining rooms by imported Japanese soji screens—their paper was embedded with butterflies and leaves. Their shadows began to migrate across the room with the shifting sun. A butterfly kissed Granny’s forehead—another lit on my hand. A pattern of leaves trailed my bare legs. The silhouettes fluttered, giving form to the spirits of departed kin—as they welcomed Granny into their fold.

        We buried Granny in our remote family cemetery—the funeral procession recalling previous rituals—braving the crude path up the hill. Preceded by pallbearers on foot, the mourners stumbled through brambles as they forged their way to the graveyard.

        Returning from the burial, I remember Uncle Lige—resplendent—in long hippie hair and his funeral clothes, somersaulting with his lover Jack—down the hill through the fallen leaves.

        Uncle Lige was killed when I was 13. Like Granny, he is still with me in spirit. I’ve often called on him for his support and inspiration. He once said to my mother, “Don’t be surprised if Eric grows up to be Gay like me.” Maybe it was the way I’d stare at him, studying his every move—each flex of muscle—his facial expressions. Now, Uncle Lige watches over my shoulder as I wander the streets of New York City and inhabit his former East Village neighborhood. I wonder what it’s like for him, seeing our world swept by a plague.

        Uncle Lige used to say, “You have to learn to bend like the willow.” I didn’t understand what he meant until AIDS came into my life—and death became a constant “companion”—enveloping comrades in such rapid succession that I trip over the count and would lose their names if they weren’t housed in my memorial file:

        There is young blonde Scott with the bright green eyes; Carlos—and Australian Tim—Fair Pam—and the Jones boys, composer John and Jim the painter—David, the artist and activist—there is Huck, the frenzied Aries—beautiful Santiago and Zany Ann—Blue-eyed Roland—Lovely Tina—and Sweet Adrian…

I walk with the shadows

of the men I’ve known

and loved and tasted –-

and feel, even still,

the warmth of their breaths 

against my skin.

        The spirits of my friends and lovers who died of complications from AIDS commingle with my departed ancestors—an extended family tree.

        My guardian spirits abound—sending me back into the world. Each lends their individual attributes. They strengthen me as I feel my footing and learn to walk again in a world I was prepared to leave. My guardians have not relinquished me in my revival. They are stronger in me, as I am in myself.

Visitation (Fire Island)
2012, silver gelatin print, 20×24 inches