Sarah Schulman Walks Prof C Through the ACT UP Exhibit

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Sarah Schulman Walks Prof C Through the ACT UP Exhibit

After spending much of this fall at the Act Up Oral History Project in NYC — what with its fabulous opening, incredible reading series, and offering of enough documentary footage for several visits — we asked curator Sarah Schulman for a walk-through of the gallery space at White Columns. I really dork out (you'll notice I act even more gay when I'm excited) in this video because Schulman is one of my favorite contemporary writers and because she is perhaps the foremost expert on the history of ACT UP and AIDS activism in America. This is such important work!

So here's some context for the video: The actual exhibit at White Columns features an foyer installation by fierce pussy, two rooms detailing the graphic art/activism of ACT UP, and a series of stations where you can view the 100+ personal interviews with ACT UP activists, conducted by Schulman and collaborator Jim Hubbard. In the video, Schulman offers some highlights of the personal stories. By the way, on their website you can watch the first five minutes of each interview.

Enjoy this close encounter with our inspiring queer history!


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Comments [6]

wmnsbballfan's picture

i'm not sure i know what an

i'm not sure i know what an "act up member" is.  during the mid to late 80's, act up's heyday, i don't think anyone ever missed an act up event.  act up is an acronym for aids coalition to unleash power. 


KJ's picture


The simultaneity of action. I want it.

"You were allowed to do whatever you needed to do. So if you needed to go work on insurance, you could go work on insurance. If you needed to go get arrested, you could go get arrested every day. But if you didn't like what somebody else was doing, you just wouldn't do it. You would do what you needed to do."

This is the kind of movement I want.

SMBrown's picture

Wow, what a meaty

Wow, what a meaty interview--thanks Prof!  

Really intrigued by Sarah's discovery that there wasn't a common demographic that brought people together in ACT UP--that many had no connection initially to the gay community and that they weren't born activists.  

Also, love that this sprung from her anger that Americans 'erase' years of struggle and pretend like we just decided to do the right thing by those with AIDS because we're such good people.  Funny because I just heard Andrew Sullivan make the same assumption about Americans in an interview recently and I nearly blew my top!  

And, can't help noting that this project is a pretty savvy way for Schulman to enshrine her own role in history--and I don't say that negatively.  


Julia Watson's picture

‎"It shows you that

‎"It shows you that regular people can change the world... This is the story of a despised people with no rights who were facing grievous oppression, and who joined together and forced this country to change against its will, thereby saving each other's lives."

A timely message for our communities if there ever was one.

SMBrown's picture

Hmm....She actually kind of

Hmm....She actually kind of contradicts herself in saying this, because earlier she had stated how surprised she was to discover that many of the original ACT UP members had no connection to the gay community.  So it wasn't just the story of the 'despised' banding together... 

Conlite's picture

Great video Prof!  Thanks for

Great video Prof!  Thanks for posting.  Wish I was in New York to see the whole thing.