[*In Some remarks before I make the video, I say I’ll make a video for the launch of E&H Lab‘s CHAOS project. Instead I decided to reconsider some ‘grant language’ from the recent Luv ’til it Hurts process. — xo Todd]
Perhaps this piece should be termed ‘denouement to funders’ or ‘divorce in funder-land’, but these thoughts were gathered originally for a short ‘video letter’ to the CHAOS project (Paris) on mental health … which I never made. What eventually brought these two themes of ‘funding’ and ‘mental health’ together was a question on a grant application for the LUV project in which I was asked if I’m ‘handicapped’ and if I’m ‘neurodivergent’. I reluctantly checked one or both in that instance, but didn’t get the money. This is beside the point. I deeply considered whether having HIV rendered me handicap, whether being manic-depressive rendered me neurodivergent, and whether HIV cross-pollinated to compound neurodivergence.
I was at once happy to see a word referring specifically and kindly to mental health, and knowing people inside the foundation wondered if they would concur with how I checked the boxes. Which, again, is beside the point.
The LUV project had the luxury of a $50k start-up grant from the Ford Foundation, which was regranted to HIV activists around the world. Whilst we’ve needed more money during the two-years of LUV’s R&D phase–during which the LUV Game, Exquisite Corpse & Luv Fund$ were developed–most of its building came from the ‘sweat equity’ of its participants. After 20-odd years of fundraising for big artworks that play out in social contexts, I see writing grant applications as a huge waste of time. One might receive one-out-of-ten grants requested, and this erodes focus and time resources that can otherwise be used in direct action. But this is me … just my opinion. Sometimes when I don’t agree with the grant decision, I contact the grantmaker and try to engage in constructive communication towards a fruitful end (please, give me the money:), but this only works on the odd occasion. Given what I say in BLACK [strength], I’m rather committed to philanthropic reform, and Notes on Starfucking gets to some of these points, but from a different angle.
With all my heart I still believe (after almost three years) that the LUV project will generate a dynamic, functioning philanthropic device, which rather than asking for grants, will augment present resources available to artists and activists working on HIV and stigma. Stay tuned!!