Sur Rodney (Sur) at WHAT YOU DON'T KNOW COULD FILL A MUSEUM

Visual AIDS presented WHAT YOU DON'T KNOW COULD FILL A MUSEUM last January as part of the Brooklyn Museum's Target Free Saturday. Moderated by Brittany Duck, featuring Hugh Ryan, Jean Carlomusto, Tara Buck and Vincent Cianni, the event was part 2 of our ongoing public conversation about art, AIDS and representation. In anticipation of the transcript being done, edited and ready to disseminate, we are excited to share this sneak peak. Towards the end of the event Sur Rodney (Sur) spoke from the audience to share his thoughts on the difficulties in presenting history.

AUDIENCE MEMBER (SUR RODNEY (SUR)): I think there’s always a problem with re-presenting histories because you have to revise them so that the audience today can understand them. I feel they’re useless. They’re always re-imagined and truncated.

I think when you’re looking at any kind of situation, bringing it to an audience today, you have to begin to look at where the audience of today is and then look back to figure out how they got there and fill in the gaps of what they don’t know.

If you look at something like, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, there’s this revisionist-kind of history in terms of looking back in fights that we had for struggles of gay rights, we look at where people are now, where our culture is now and look back, you’ll find out it was the exact opposite.

Because the fight was really not about fighting for people to be into gay rights, to be in the army or get married it’s the exact opposite. But to make sense to the culture that we are now, we have to re-imagine what people fought for in the past and link it to something in the future that gives you a revisionist history of facts.

I see this failing happening continually. You have to look at where people are now, how they’re thinking now, where they got to where they are now, and then go back to fill in the gaps to really recognize how different it is. It is my continuum.

Actual truncation of events and history to make now seem like it’s much more present and retroactive, it really isn’t. It’s much worse.

Visit the Visual AIDS blog in the coming days for the full transcript and images.