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Haunted Houses
August 24, 2010 8:32 PM   Subscribe

The list of New York artists who died of AIDS over the last 30 years is countless, and the loss immeasurable. Last Address uses images of the exteriors of the houses, apartment buildings, and lofts where these and others were living at the time of their deaths to mark the disappearance of a generation. The film is a remembrance of that loss, as well as an evocation of the continued presence of these artists work in our lives and culture. (via)
posted by Horace Rumpole (26 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
for some reason when i saw this a few weeks ago, it made me well up, something about the sheer space of cities.
posted by PinkMoose at 8:42 PM on August 24, 2010


Thanks - this is beautiful.

I took a long walk around The Castro recently, and wondered how many of the houses and apartments that I saw were the place that someone came home to on the day that they were diagnosed, and how many of the windows opened into a room that someone lay in for months, sick and afraid and dying.

I can't explain exactly why it was so powerful, but I don't think I've ever felt so viscerally how terrifying the beginning of the epidemic must have been, or how much we lost.
posted by ryanshepard at 9:30 PM on August 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


It really is nicely done, quiet shots in the city, feels like a nice day there, I've only been once but Paris felt like this, quiet, calming; US cities aren't that quiet, in my experience. Maybe they shot this on Sundays?

I lived in Houston through the 1980s. A huge gay population, a massive, ongoing party through the 70s, into the 80s, I never lived in the Montrose but I love to run around there, it was great fun, it's where the museums are, lots of the arts, lots of the fun of Houston.

It became a funeral. It was like an electrified hurricane ran through town, blasting people. A horror show. The confusion at the start, the disbelief. My girlfriend in late 80s, her prior boyfriend died of it, it was a pall, or could easily be, he was a spectacular man -- he wasn't an artist but he lived his life as art, or maybe Capital A Art -- they were to have gotten married, then his past showed up...

And a lot of my friends and co-workers from then were blue-collar junkies, I've wondered over the years how many were taken out, they shared needles same as I'd share a bag of chips with someone, totally casual.

Driving around Houston when I visit there kinda feels like this film.
posted by dancestoblue at 12:16 AM on August 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


The list of New York artists who died of AIDS over the last 30 years is countless.
No, the list is not countless. There's one list. You have counted it just by putting "the" in front of it.

Maybe you mean the list is very long, or that nobody knows how long it is, or that countless artists have died. Or maybe you mean it's endless, since people continue to die.
posted by w0mbat at 12:43 AM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I lived in Houston through the 1980s. A huge gay population, a massive, ongoing party through the 70s, into the 80s, I never lived in the Montrose but I love to run around there, it was great fun, it's where the museums are, lots of the arts, lots of the fun of Houston.

I feel such deep sadness for this first generation to die of AIDs and all who loved them. Everything in the culture was shrieking at them to "party, party, party". Some of them, like Robert Mapplethorpe, were at the head of the conga line. Others, like Harold Brodkey, were swept up in the rage for sexual experimentation. The cultural momentum behind this was so strong that even when we discovered that "party, party, party" meant "death, death, death", "the band played on" and even today, we speak of AIDS as some vast impersonal force, an "electrified hurricane," when the fact is that it's only a flimsy little virus that can be killed by soap and water, and that the disease it causes is one of the most preventable on earth. It's like all those generations of sailors who died of scurvy who might have lived long happy lives if they had been given a daily ration of lemonade instead of rum. But how could they have known? And would they have given up their precious rum ration if they had?
posted by Faze at 4:03 AM on August 25, 2010


Thinking about this missing generation makes me really sad.
I always thinks of the films of Marlon T. Riggs for documenting what it's like to live while all of your friends are dying off... And then of course, he too died.
Or videos of the Act Up rallies, where each progressive year many of the activists from the prior year are no longer there.
posted by Theta States at 6:55 AM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


This project reminds me of a similar musical project- Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens. A remembrance of individuals who died of AIDS. Beautiful work, see it if you ever get a chance- it's often performed as a fundraiser for organizations fighting HIV/AIDS.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:29 AM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


[Whole damn bunch of comments removed. luke1249, you went at this thread in a really really poor way. Please do not do that again. There is a Metatalk thread available for anyone who needs to talk about this in more detail.]
posted by cortex at 7:42 AM on August 25, 2010


In 1995, 7046 people died from HIV/AIDS in New York City.

That's almost exactly equivalent to the number of people killed in the NYC 9/11 attacks plus the number of American casualties in the Iraq War.

So, yeah. It was a big fucking deal (and still is)
posted by schmod at 7:44 AM on August 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


*sigh* So sad.
posted by zizzle at 9:05 AM on August 25, 2010


My partner, now in his 50's, lived through this time in San Diego. He never practiced safe sex back then (few people did), and yet he never contracted HIV. We don't know why he's still negative, as he certainly engaged in plenty of practices that would've hastened infection.

Not one friend of his from that time, not one lover, boyfriend, or acquaintance, is alive now. Not one. They're all gone. And to this day, he still feels survivor's guilt.

We viewed this website together, and I held his hand as he cried.

Thanks OP. (not snark)
posted by matty at 9:40 AM on August 25, 2010 [25 favorites]


I noticed Steve Buschemi was among the many thanked in the credits. He's a good guy, isn't he?
posted by zizzle at 10:06 AM on August 25, 2010


Aside from some semantic argument ("the" countless is, I suppose, counted. *sigh*), the impact AIDS had on the artistic community is immense. Not only of the artists who's careers were cut short, but the works that will never come because of those absent works. The progress of art could be pictured as a rolling, mutable, cloud of ideas and it's mass is composed of works. The individual's contributions to that mass isn't just additive, it's multiplicative. The loss of a generation means a stunted well for future generations to draw on.

People in this thread may also be interested in the works of Felix Gonzalez-Torres. One of the works that stood out the most to me, in my Art Since 1950 class was his Untitled (Portrait of Ross in L.A.), 1991. Ross was his lover who died of AIDS, and his portrait was an installation piece. The instructions for the installation go something like, "175lbs of multicolored candies, individually wrapped in cellophane." Viewers are invited to take a candy from the heap, dwindling it's mass as AIDS caused Ross to waste away. I think there is something about his works that is mordant; it cuts through time and personal experience and speaks of a universal human tragedy. Gonzalez-Torres is one of the artists featured in the film as he died in 96, also of AIDS.
posted by fontophilic at 10:09 AM on August 25, 2010


Thanks OP.

Thank you for your comment, matty.

People in this thread may also be interested in the works of Felix Gonzalez-Torres.

Be sure to check out the more info links at the top of the page. The bios are pretty short, but each has good links to the artists' work.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 10:26 AM on August 25, 2010


I noticed Steve Buschemi was among the many thanked in the credits. He's a good guy, isn't he?

Steve Buschemi was one of the first actors to portray a person living with HIV/AIDS in a film (which my late friend Paul produced): Parting Glances.

He is a good guy!
posted by ericb at 10:29 AM on August 25, 2010


Err ... it's Buscemi.
posted by ericb at 10:37 AM on August 25, 2010


fontofilic, my best friend, an artist, was severely reprimanded by a docent or security guard when he took a piece of candy from that work. He tried explaining the intent of the piece, and how the artist wanted patrons to take a piece of candy, but they made him put it back.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 10:42 AM on August 25, 2010


I love Felix Gonzalez-Torres's work.

Slmtdhcjm, when did that happen to your friend? Because if it happened recently at The Art Institute of Chicago, I'm going up there ASAP just to take a piece of damn candy.
posted by HopperFan at 10:50 AM on August 25, 2010


Dammit, I didn't make the connection right away - guess I should have asked fontofilic directly.
posted by HopperFan at 10:52 AM on August 25, 2010


i want to say it happened in Chicago in the summer of 98 or 99. This link seems to indicate the installation was originally done in 99, so I guess it was that summer. He also got in trouble by a security guard for walking on Carl Andre's copper plates (I don't know which specific piece, but he said it was a piece the artist meant to be walked upon). Hope this isn't too off topic.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 10:59 AM on August 25, 2010


Thanks - I don't think it's off topic, since we're not in AskMe. I wish Felix was still around. I wish Nomi was still with us. It's a very bittersweet film to watch, I probably shouldn't have looked at it while at work.
posted by HopperFan at 11:06 AM on August 25, 2010


Neat film, thanks for posting.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:21 PM on August 25, 2010


After the purge, which I completely agree with all I can say is thanks, OP. And

.

And fuck the haters too. That too.
posted by Splunge at 1:17 PM on August 25, 2010


People in this thread may also be interested in the works of Felix Gonzalez-Torres. One of the works that stood out the most to me, in my Art Since 1950 class was his Untitled (Portrait of Ross in L.A.), 1991...

Wow. Amazing you brought that one up. I traveled with my daughter's high school art class to the Art Institute of Chicago several years ago. We had a docent-led tour of the exhibits and made an extended stop at this very installation. It was extremely powerful, and I had a nice little conversation with my daughter about that piece. FWIW, they allowed us to take the candy. The docent explained that was part of the piece.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:23 PM on August 25, 2010


Watch the video, and read Astro Zombie's comment in the MeTa thread. "Emotionally devastating" doesn't even begin to describe it.

Not to parrot off of my previous comment, but after watching the video for the second time, I realized why the video's eerie "New York silence" made me so uneasy.. It reminded me of the day after 9/11. The city was silent, the weather was beautiful, and everybody was stunned...it was like staring at a still life.

I can't help but imagine that the communities most heavily effected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s and 1990s were left suspended in a similar state of shock. In terms of numbers, it was like having 9/11 take place every 4 months...for over a decade (but really, far worse, because those communities were quite small to begin with, and got hit the hardest).
posted by schmod at 7:27 PM on August 25, 2010


matty: this might explain it

23andme tests people using saliva samples for genetic disease markers and for genealogy.
posted by exogenous at 8:05 PM on August 25, 2010


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