Archiving an EpidemicArt, AIDS, and the Queer Chicanx Avant-Garde

Archiving an EpidemicArt, AIDS, and the Queer Chicanx Avant-Garde

Robb Hernández

Print publication date: 2020

ISBN: 9781479845309

Publisher: NYU Press

Abstract

Archiving an Epidemic is the first book to examine the devastating effect of the AIDS crisis on a generation of Chicanx artists who influenced transgressive genders and sexualities operating in the Chicana and Chicano art movement in Southern California. From mariconógraphy to renegade street graffiti, from the Barrio Baroque to Frozen Art, these visual provocateurs introduced a radical queer languageemboldened by opportunities in LA’s art and retail culturein the 1980s. AIDS not only ravaged their lives, but also devastated their archives. A queer archival methodology is demanded to ascertain how AIDS and its losses and traumas have rearticulated recordkeeping practices beyond systemic forms of preservation. The resulting “archival bodies/archival spaces” of queer Chicanx avant-gardists Mundo Meza (1955–1985), Teddy Sandoval (1949–1995), and Joey Terrill (1955–present) refutes dismissive arguments that these provocateurs have had little consequence for the definition of the aesthetics of Chicano art and performance. With appearances by Laura Aguilar, Cyclona, Simon Doonan, David Hockney, Christopher Isherwood, Robert Mapplethorpe, and even Eddie Murphy, this book stands in defense of the alternative archivesthat emerged from this plague. Thinking outside traditional terms of institutional mediation, Archiving an Epidemic speculates not what Chicana/o art is but what it could have been.