Housed within the Steinhardt School Department of Art and Art Professions, 80WSE Galleries is proud to announce the opening of "Gran Fury: Read My Lips," the first comprehensive exhibition documenting the work of Gran Fury, the influential AIDS activist arts collective. Gran Fury's work raised public awareness of AIDS, put pressure on politicians, and opened up a broader spectrum of understanding about the political and collective art practices that flourished in downtown New York during the 1980s and 1990s.
Curated by Gran Fury and 80WSE Assistant Director Michael Cohen, the exhibition consists of 15 pieces including the group’s most important public works, "Kissing Doesn't Kill," "Welcome to America," and "Women Don't Get AIDS,” that will be reproduced in large-scale mural formats. Showing at 80 Washington Square East, the exhibition opens Jan. 31, runs through March 17, and is free and open to the public.
Naming itself after the model of Plymouth automobile used by the New York City Police Department, Gran Fury made public projects that were simultaneously scathing, provocative, stylish and often quite funny. This exhibition conveys the collective's unique voice across a wide variety of media, including billboards, postcards, video, posters, and painting that helped to convey the urgency of the early AIDS crisis and led many into the streets to demand reforms that changed public policy and saved lives.
In the 80WSE Windows Gallery, Gran Fury will present a 25-foot window installation, facing Washington Square Park, produced specifically for this exhibition. The installation juxtaposes images of AIDS activists and anti-gay protestors, encouraging viewers to viscerally experience the polarization in America over health-care issues related to AIDS during the late 1980s and providing historical context necessary for understanding how and why the images in this exhibition were produced.
There will also be a projection of the "Kissing Doesn't Kill" video public service announcements in the gallery along with never before seen outtakes. In addition, the exhibition includes several notable giveaways including "Men Use Condoms" and postcards from the “Read My Lips” series. Interspersed among these works will be texts and photos that recreate the social and political context which inspired AIDS activism and the demonstrations and actions where Gran Fury's graphic interventions were used.
About 80WSE Galleries
The 80WSE Galleries, located on the east side of Washington Square Park between West 4th St. and Washington Place, is directed by artist and NYU Steinhardt faculty member Peter Campus. 80WSE is an extension of the program in studio art in the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at NYU. The 80WSE Galleries display exhibitions curated by faculty, students, and alumni, as well as experimental projects by noted curators.
To learn more about NYU Steinhardt, visit: www.steinhardt.nyu.edu.