Department of Media Study and UB Art Galleries present a conversation with artist, activist, educator, and writer Gregg Bordowitz as part of the PLASMA speaker series. PLASMA (Performances, Lectures, and Screenings in Media Art) brings to Buffalo celebrated theorists and artists who are exhibiting in some of the world’s most renowned museums and galleries, and writing on the cutting edge of new media theory and expression. Aimed at the articulation of critical questions, the series explores the possibilities of media and art in a world under political, economic, and ecological threat.
Since the late 1980s, writer, artist, and activist Gregg Bordowitz has made diverse works—essays, poems, performances, drawings, sculpture, and videos—that explore his Jewish, gay, and bisexual identities within the context of the ongoing AIDS crisis. A professor and director of the Low-Residency MFA program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Bordowitz was an early participant in New York’s ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), where he cofounded various video collectives, including Testing the Limits, an advocacy group within ACT UP, and DIVA (Damn Interfering Video Activists). While developing a visual language capable of communicating harm-reduction models to a broad public in his collaborative works, he made his own videos and television broadcasts, such as some aspect of a shared lifestyle (1986) and Fast Trip, Long Drop (1993), that juxtaposed performance documentation, archival footage, role play, and recordings of protest demonstrations, drawing influence from feminist conceptual art. In recent years Bordowitz has increasingly introduced poetry and performance as art events, exploring histories of televised stand-up comedy in works such as Only Idiots Smile (2017) and Some Styles of Masculinity (2017).