This experimental video intervention aims to explore sociopolitical, technocratic, historical textures of latex, specifically as they relate to ongoing AIDS crises. A collaboration by artists and activists Chaplin Christopher Jones, Ted Kerr, Niknaz and LJ Roberts aims to thread together the imperial foundation of latex and the ongoing AIDS crisis within marginalized communities.
The video is a progression of a poster created by Jones and Kerr inspired by the work and lived experience Jones, a black HIV-positive Baptist minister and activist, who is passionate about raising awareness around the lived experience of black and brown men who have sex with others men and their disproportionate rate of HIV infection. The poster was made in 2014 for AIDS Action Now's posterVIRUS project.
The burning condom and litany text—which is read in the film—are shared with the intention of igniting public discourse around the condom. Since the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (Play Fair, 1982) and Richard Berkowitz and Michael Callen (How to Have Sex in an Epidemic, 1983) first popularized the use of condoms as an AIDS prevention strategy there has been little public discourse around the holistic impact of condoms on the lives the latex barrier is said to be saving.
In an age where condoms are—for some—a loaded symbol of “AIDS Inc” and the systemic discrimination leveled against profiled and monitored bodies; and at a time pharmaceutical interventions such as PEP and PrEP are seemingly reducing the need for condoms; and at a time where carrying a condom can lead to arrest, what is one to make of the rubber? What does it smell, sound, feel like, to burn a condom?
Key to this conversation are the various understandings, sense memory, and attachments people have to condoms, often related to age, life chances, aesthetics, race, orientation, faith, gender and class.
The burning condom is the fire around which we can gather, watch, listen, feel, and discuss.
Vimeo link upon request.
MIX NYC: Queer Experimental Film Festival. New York City, NY.
Someday this kid will get larger. DePaul Art Museum. Chicago IL (Curated by Danny Orendorff)
Femmes Video Art Festival, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (Curated by Michol Hebron)