Auto Italia is pleased to present Read My Lips, a survey exhibition of image-making, community activism and public works produced by the seminal AIDS activist art collective Gran Fury between 1987 and 1995.
Presented in the UK for the first time and on the occasion of the thirtieth anniversary of the group’s formation, the exhibition will bring to light the critical, funny and scathing collective voice of Gran Fury, explored through a number of print works including billboard campaigns, public intervention works and guerrilla tactic protests originally staged across public spaces in New York.
Springing out of ACT UP in the late 1980s in downtown New York, Gran Fury bridged a gap between situationist site-specific art strategies, post-modern appropriation and the queer activist movement. Since the group’s emergence, their work has continued to be an influential cornerstone of queer activism, socially engaged artistic practice and health campaigning, defining the aesthetics of queer and AIDS activism in the late twentieth century.
The exhibition of this archive is an opportunity to revisit and rethink strategies of direct action, rights to protest and community organising available to artists and cultural institutions. It will explore the range of strategies Gran Fury employed to dismantle barriers to health provisions affecting queer and minority individuals; directly attacking conservative media, the Catholic Church and political organisations that blocked – and continue to oppose – change in public health policy in the US and internationally.
Taken as a whole, Read My Lips presents a history of political work and organising that opens up a broader spectrum of understanding around the aesthetics of political action and the legacies of AIDS activism, bringing together a rare collection of the group’s output that helped to convey the urgency of the early AIDS crisis and led to changes in public policy that saved lives.
A series of learning events, conversations and artistic commissions presented in conjunction with Gran Fury’s exhibition have been co-curated in collaboration with artist Jack O’Brien.
Gran Fury in conversation with Richard John Jones
Sunday 30th September, 3-5pm
Two of Gran Fury’s twelve founding members, Marlene McCarty and John Lindell are joined in conversation by Richard John Jones, artist and previous director of Auto Italia (2009-11), to discuss the work and legacy of the group and the presentation of their archive.
Preview and after party
Preview: Monday 1 October, 6-9pm
After party: Monday 1 October, 9pm till late
Auto Italia and The Queen Adelaide present an after party to celebrate the opening of Gran Fury’s first solo survey presentation in the UK. Music from Alex Padfield, Hiba and clubcouture. All welcome, no booking required.
Technology workshops for young people in East London
Monday 23 – Wednesday 25 October
A series of art and technology workshops for young people (ages 14 to 18) living and studying in Tower Hamlets and Hackney, creating visual responses to the exhibition in 360 filmmaking, VR and AR animation and sound design. These events were delivered in collaboration with the art and media cooperative Black Shuck.
An evening of readings, performances and sound works from three London-based artists and writers Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley, Otamere Guobadia and Harley Yeung Kurylowski exploring radical new perspectives into queer identities, culture, and politics.
A newly commissioned dance and movement practice work by Carlos Maria Romero aka Atabey Mamasita in collaboration with professionals and volunteers from METRO’s Emerging Communities Programme, which engages members of the growing Latinx and Polish communities in London around HIV prevention and support. Presented on World AIDS Day, this event marks the first public outcome of a project addressing the ongoing AIDS crisis and the factors primarily affecting the working class, women, people of colour and LGBTQ+ communities from the Global South.
Gran Fury, Read My Lips is made possible through the generous support of Omni, with additional support from Arts Council England – National Lottery Project Grants.