On the Fortieth Anniversary of the Beginning of the HIV/AIDS Crisis, David Zwirner Gallery Presents ‘More Life’



Image: ACT UP Demo Federal Plaza NYC June 30, 1987 (detail). From left: Steve Gendon, Mark Aurigemma, Douglas Montgomery, Charles Stinson, Frank O’Dowd, Avram Finkelstein. Photo by Donna Binder

More Life is a series of curated solo exhibitions held at the gallery’s locations in New York and London this summer and fall. The series is presented on the fortieth anniversary of the beginning of the HIV/AIDS crisis, and focuses on some of the artists who are often neglected in broader art-historical and cultural narratives.

In June 1981, the US Centers for Disease Control first reported what would eventually be known as AIDS.1 Marking the fortieth anniversary of the CDC’s report, acknowledged as the beginning of the HIV/AIDS crisis, this series of exhibitions will highlight a selection of artists whose lives were cut short by HIV/AIDS-related complications during approximately the first twenty years of the epidemic. This series explores the affective, aesthetic, personal, and political responses to the crisis through the lens of the gay male perspective—from artists who were part of communities that were disproportionately affected by the virus, although certainly not the only demographic to experience its devastation. While some of the artists presented have had recent visibility in the art world, many other artists remain largely unknown to the broader public. As new HIV infections continue to impact nearly 1.7 million individuals annually around the world,2 this exhibition is a focused look at some of the artists who were affected at the beginning of the ongoing crisis, and who are often neglected in broader art-historical and cultural narratives.

Presented at the gallery’s 19th Street location will be:

  • Marlon Riggs’s (1957–1994) experimental film Tongues Untied (1989);

  • Derek Jarman’s (1942–1994) seminal film Blue (1993), accompanied by paintings by Jarman;

  • a focused presentation about the Silence=Death Collective, which created some of the most iconic images of political art in US history, including their Silence=Death poster, alongside other early AIDS activist imagery and agitprop. A limited-edition Silence=Death print will be available, with proceeds benefiting Visual AIDS.

At the gallery’s East 69th Street location will be a selection of Mark Morrisroe’s (1959–1989) photographs, curated by Ryan McGinley. The More Life series will continue in September with three exhibitions at David Zwirner’s New York galleries:

  • Ching Ho Cheng (1946–1989), curated by Simon Wu;

  • Frank Moore (1953–2002), curated by Hilton Als

  • Jesse Murry (1948–1993), cocurated by Jarrett Earnest and Lisa Yuskavage.

David Zwirner’s London gallery will present an exhibition of works by Hugh Steers (1962–1995), curated by the actor, writer, and Talk Art podcast cohost Russell Tovey.

To accompany this group of exhibitions, the gallery will present a series of conversations and videos with Gregg Bordowitz, Avram Finkelstein, Ted Kerr, Sarah Schulman, Pamela Sneed, Tilda Swinton, and Wolfgang Tillmans, among others.

More Life is organized by David Zwirner Senior Director Robert Goff, Director Thor Shannon, and Associate Director Alec Smyth.

We won’t die secret deaths anymore. The world only spins forward.
We will be citizens. The time has come.
Bye now.
You are fabulous creatures, each and every one.
And I bless you: More Life.
The Great Work Begins.

—Tony Kushner, Angels in America

More Life will be on view from June 24 through August 6, 2021 at David Zwirner Gallery, 525 West 19th Street and 34 East 69th Street, NYC. Schedule your visit.

CDC, “Pneumocystis Pneumonia—Los Angeles,” MMWR (Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report) 30, no. 21 (June 5, 1981), pp. 250–252.

2 “The Global HIV/AIDS Epidemic,” HIV.gov, November 25, 2020, https://www.hiv.gov/hiv-basics/overview/data-and-trends/global-statistics.