message from the editor

Welcome to the new, post-prototype Artery: The AIDS-Arts Forum. Artery's mission is to examine both the history of the AIDS crisis and its changing face as reflected in the arts. At Artery, we believe that the arts can enlarge the dialogue about AIDS and contemporary society. Artery's audiences are multiple: contemporary artists and art buffs, people living with AIDS, as well as the broad publics interested in today's history, culture and its defining issues. As one of the participants in Artery's first symposium observed: "The influence of AIDS-related art is huge--too large to see clearly and yet pervasive." AIDS may be the Vietnam of the eighties and the need for places to discuss relevant issues and express conflicted feelings has hardly abated over time.
Forum is the proper term for presenting a variety of materials to this coalition or new community of audiences. Artery simultaneously hybridizes the zine and journal, the work of a presenting organization, a research database, and chatroom. As an online site we'll be showcasing critical interpretation and first person experience regarding AIDS-arts, alongside an interactive calendar and a interactive AIDS-arts timeline. (Okay they're not very interactive yet, but they will be soon, especially with your help.) The calendar is intended to support an international flow of AIDS-arts information and the timeline encourages each participant to be a player, a contributor to an account of history written by the people who made it. Offline, we'll also collaborate with museums and universities, festivals and organizations to do AIDS-arts programming related to the Estate Project's on-going archival work on experimental film, dance, theatre, music and AIDS activist video.

The first actual event Artery will co-produce is a panel about art and AIDS at Thread Waxing Space in New York on June 7, 2000. (It will be presented in conjunction with the exhibition of Catherine Opie's giant Polaroid portraits of performance artist Ron Athey produced by the Estate Project.) In addition to actual panels, reading and conversations, Artery provides site visitors with bulletin boards and (projected) hosted email symposia designed to bring additional community- and expert voices to the mix. In an innovative partnership with Poz magazine, Artery is co-sponsoring a literary contest about AIDS this year.

Artery also functions as an interpretive guide to the Estate Project's activities. The Estate Project's site is, by nature, democratic. The thousands of images available for viewing in the Virtual Collection, for example, are purposely left "uncurated" and without interpretation as a tool for research and experience. Artery's multi-disciplinary, interpretive approach builds on the Estate Project's creation of archives in the visual arts, dance, theatre, music, film and activist video, connecting varied, and fragmented audiences for these different art forms In addition to chronicling AIDS-related arts of all kinds, Artery will assess the nature and reach of their pervasive cultural and social influence. Examining the broad cultural and social issues raised by AIDS-art also means looking at the work of artists who address HIV/AIDS in their work, while not themselves (literally) infected with the virus; and the work of artist-"others," including youth and those showing at this year's AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.

The theme of Artery's spring season is In Motion. This relates both to our own activity getting off the ground and the focus on dance, theater and film that characterizes the material that's just been posted. New features include a reunion (via email) of the NEA 4, a Symposium about the unfashionability of AIDS-arts today, an Artist in the Archives interview by Jon Gartenberg with Jack Waters, the film program's first living (and African-American) artist, a memoir by Philip Lopate about filmmaker Warren Sonbert, never-before-published images of dancer Bill T. Jones by Riverbed, a conversation between Bill T. Jones and Paul Kaiser, Michael Bronski's look at Thomas McGovern's book, "Bearing Witness," and Misha Berson's essay about the landmark, San Francisco AIDS-theatrework "The AIDS Show" (1984). I hope you enjoy experiencing these features as much as I enjoyed compiling and editing them. Special thanks also to Deborah Chow, who made Artery look and operate as smoothly as it does.

Please help us make this publication yours, as well as the Estate Project's.


Robert Atkins

Robert Atkins, Artery's producer and editor, is an art historian and writer who has been an innovator in the areas of both digital culture and AIDS activism. Currently, Atkins is a research fellow at Carnegie-Mellon's Studio for Creative Inquiry and art editor of the Media Channel. In 1995, he created TalkBack! A Forum for Critical Inquiry, the first American online journal about online art, and from 1996-98, was editor-in-chief of the Arts, Technology, Entertainment Network, a New York Times Company start up producing arts programming for television and the Internet. Since the beginning of the epidemic, Atkins has written widely about AIDS and in 1990 co-curated, "From Media to Metaphor: Art About AIDS," the first travelling museum exhibition surveying art about AIDS. He was also one of the four founders of Visual AIDS, the New York-based organization responsible for the annual Day Without Art, the Red Ribbon Project, and many other educational activities.

Read the December '99 Message from the Editor

Artery Credits
Design: Deborah Chow, Scott Gould   Back End Programming: Luna Imaging   Research/Editorial Assistance: Yelena Gluzman   Animations: Creative Time (Carol Stakenas)   Circulation & Blood Screen Image: Lisa Hecht, REPOhistory    Funders: The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation