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.
With special thanks to Lily Hudson, Lenart Kirbis, Paola Koss, Kim Nicholson, Lawrence Prebble, Livier Sidabraite, Andrea Toro and Chloe Webster for bringing it to life.