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Artists aim to raise AIDS awareness at boro museum

Hector Canonage of Queens Media Arts Development has recruited multiple artists for Framing AIDS, a multi-media, multi-forum art exhibition built to raise awareness of the still deadly disease. Photo courtesy Canonge
By Rebecca Henely

As Queens Media Arts Development prepares its sixth-annual Framing AIDS, a multimedia arts exhibition associated with Worlds AIDS Day Dec. 1, the program hopes to not only raise awareness of the disease but also confront visitors’ perceptions of it.

“I think this time around it’s going to be very challenging as well — even more challenging than the previous years,” said Hector Canonge, director of QMAD.

Ever since QMAD started the Framing AIDS exhibitions in 2005, it has been focused around a theme. This year’s theme is “absence” and is meant to comment on how the movement of activists and artists that was heard when the AIDS epidemic first hit the media has gone silent, despite the fact that the HIV virus can and still does kill with cases rising in African American and Hispanic communities, Canonge said.

“That’s one of the reasons why youth today believe there’s a cure for it, they believe there’s a magic pill you’re going to take,” he said.

Framing AIDS 2010 begins Dec. 1 with an opening reception at the Queens Museum of Art in the NYC Building at Flushing Meadows Corona Park. This reception will go on from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and will have poetry readings and visuals by collaborators.

On Dec. 4 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., the Jackson Heights branch of the Queens Library, at 35-51 81st St., will screen the documentary “Sex in an Epidemic” about the U.S. safer-sex movement and “Tied Hands,” an Israeli movie about the relationship between a mother and her son, who has HIV.

From Dec. 1 to Dec. 19, Framing AIDS will also have two art shows online and at the Queens Museum of Art. Canonge said the online media was created through the AIDS Museum’s education program. The AIDS Museum is an online art exhibition hoping to eventually set up shop in Newark, N.J., and this year will feature art from high school students for Framing AIDS.

Canonge said this exhibition will show that high school students are still thinking about the disease and are interested in sending a message of care and love.

The event at the museum will feature visual arts, performance, poetry and dance. The artists involved were picked on an open call and organized by Canonge and will feature all new art pieces.

Canonge said he thinks the art will be thought-provoking and controversial, but visitors would have to come to the show to find out why. He said that during the show audiences would be challenged not only by what they see and hear, but what they do not see and hear.

The show will end with a closing reception Dec. 19 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the museum. It will include multimedia performances and a talk with artists, community AIDS activists and representatives from the AIDS Center of Queens County.

Canonge said he hopes the event will make people “realize that HIV and AIDS are still very much present with us, that it’s not a thing of the past.”

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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