Edwin Ramoran at (re)presenting AIDS: Culture and Accountability

On August 22, 2013, Visual AIDS along with the Pop Up Museum of Queer History and the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies, held a public forum entitled, (re)Presenting AIDS: Culture and Accountability. The event was recorded and transcribed. Panelists we invited to present a short statement about their work related to AIDS, art, and representation. Below, Edwin Ramoran invites us to feel what he is saying, rather than spelling it out for us. He is a story teller.

EDWIN: Hi everyone. I am actually currently at an institution so I am leery about talking about the institution. You have to think of the institution as being a conservative cultural context. So that is how I have always approached it and that is one of the things I am interested in, how do you make it progressive? I currently work at the Studio Museum in Harlem; I’m the Manager of Public Programs and Community Engagement. I came from a curatorial background and that is why I have a history with Visual AIDS. They really pushed me a lot. That is one of the things I am really excited about. I am just going to give a story. I think the answers will come out later. I am more interested in the sort of story telling part of what institutions do and what curators do - which is to tell stories.

This weekend I went to UNIQLO and I bought a shirt, it has Keith Haring all over it. It is too large so I had my friend; an artist named Ethan Shoshan, cut it down and take it in.

I was very happy to see Chitra Ganesh introduce My Beautiful Launderette at the Queer Art Film series at the IFC Center. It was really exciting. I wanted to share these quick things.

What Karl said earlier, AIDS is ongoing, and it is also going on - there are 2 parts to [the Kay Rosen tote bag]. I love the fact that it is also about AIDS going on. To give a quick thing about what I have done as a curator, it goes way back. It actually started with the Longwood Arts Project and the Bronx Council of the Arts and actually, it was propelled by Revolutionary Permit and Visual AIDS, and there are a lot of us here. I just have to say, this audience is illustrious and this whole room is full of it, and I can't wait to get the conversation going.

Anyway, Revolutionary Permit definitely looked at the club scene. I am definitely the type to look at popular culture, so I am going to look at Kia, and I am really excited about how popular culture can get into it. I am excited that you can go buy your T-shirt on sale, and see your mid-‘80s film that really looks at the intimacy as a natural occurrence not as special or something that needs to lead up to, some sort of coming out story—which I think of as very American. I am interested in looking at house culture - and I am glad Kia is here because she is house of Labeija too. I heard you did really well at the Ball. The Latex Ball was this weekend, but I did not get to go and see you.But that is where I am coming from as an individual - not just someone from an institution - and I think something we need to really think about and be critical about how AIDS is tied to capital and capitalism on a lot of levels. ACT UP has taught us this many times.

Download the full transcript at: (re)Presenting AIDS transcript