Bureau, founded by Marlene McCarty & Donald Moffett

The 9th annual Visual AIDS Vanguard Awards recognize the contributions of individuals who, through their work, talent and dedication, strengthen our communities and reinforce the mission of Visual AIDS. This year Visual AIDS is proud to honor Bureau, founded by Marlene McCarty & Donald Moffett, created socially engaged work from 1989 and 2001. Its diverse projects crossed media as well as disciplinary boundaries between art, design and activism. Boldly raising issues around HIV/AIDS, LGBTQ rights, Healthcare, Women's rights and more.Marlene McCarty and Donald Moffett originally met as founding members of the activist collective Gran Fury.They both continue their individual art practices. Below director Tom Kalin discusses Bureau, and the ongoing impact their work has on the world.

Visual AIDS: When did you first come across the work of Bureau?
Tom Kalin: Before Marlene and Donald formed Bureau I knew them both as members of ACT UP and of the collective that eventually became Gran Fury. In that pre-digital era, we toiled long hours together hand cutting waxed sheets of typography and pasting it down on boards. Before Bureau, Donald and Marlene were both already successful designers. But when they came together a kind of magic synergy happened. Their design projects were larger than life, like sky-writing: interventions and events that imaginatively spanned media, scale and style.

Visual AIDS: Looking at the work of Bureau do you see any of their influence on your work or that of your peers?
TK: Bureau influenced everyone, even when people didn't notice they were being influenced. They were the cool kids. I had the pleasure of collaborating with Bureau a number of times -- they designed the title sequences of my films including SWOON, GEOFFREY BEENE 30, I SHOT ANDY WARHOL and OFFICE KILLER. I edited a number of their projects including a memorable series of "Top of the Hour" MTV spots starring an adorable parade of puppies and kittens that urged viewers to vote in the upcoming elections. Politics and humor collided in their great work.

Visual AIDS: As HIV/AIDS and social justice art work and design from the 80s and 90s is circulating again, what do you hope are some of the take away messages for people seeing it for the first time?
TK: Bureau's work reminds us that we are all citizens and capable of social change if we want it. They remind us not to take ourselves too seriously and to go through life concisely and with style. Bureau are proof that typography need never be dull, that design can elevate our daily lives.

To learn more about VAVA, including who else is being honored, how to purchase a ticket or make a donation, visit the Visual AIDS Vanguard Award webpage.

From short experimental videos to feature-length narrative films, Tom Kalin’s award winning, critically acclaimed work has been screened throughout the world. His films and videos are in the permanent collection of the Whitney Museum, the Centre Georges Pompidou and MoMA. His first feature, Swoon, was awarded the Caligari Prize at Berlin, the Fipresci Prize in Stockholm, Best Cinematography at Sundance and the Open Palm at the IFP Gotham Awards. It was named one of the top 100 American Independent films by the British Film Institute. His film, Savage Grace, premiered in Cannes, was opening night film in Zurich and screened at festivals including Sundance, Stockholm, London and Tribeca. It was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award and named one of the top ten films of 2008 by Artforum and Paper. As a producer his films include I Shot Andy Warhol and Go Fish. His short videos and installations include They are lost to vision altogether, Third Known Nest, Every Wandering Cloud, Tigers and From Silence. He is a 2011 Guggenheim Fellow and received awards and fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Jerome Foundation and NYSCA among others. He has twice been included in the Whitney Biennial and has screened in museums and galleries including ICA, London; Reina Sofia, Madrid; The Cartier Foundation, Paris and The Getty Museum, Los Angeles among many others. He was a founding member of the AIDS activist collective Gran Fury which was included in the Venice Biennale. In 1993, fashion designer Geoffrey Beene commissioned Kalin to write and direct a film commemorating his 30th anniversary. The cast includes Marcia Gay Harden, Russell Wong, Claire Danes and features the final screen appearance of legendary Swedish actress Viveca Lindfors. Kalin is currently collaborating with musician Thomas Bartlett (Doveman) on an evening of live music and film and developing several feature projects.