Witnesses: Against Our Vanishing Exhibition Catalog


Exhibition catalog for the exhibit at Artists Space Gallery which ran from November 16, 1989 to January 6, 1990.

Sadly, there is no explicit design credit for the catalog. The only possible instance is the case of Laura Miller, a writer and graphic designer, who is credited as the Design Coordinator in the back of the booklet.

Description quoted from the original Press Release:

Witnesses represents a personal reflection on the influence AIDS has had on aesthetics, culture and sexuality among Goldin’s friends in Manhattan's Lower East Side community. The intention of the exhibition is to emphasize a continuum of cultural activity and a personal response to the move away from sexual liberation occasioned by the AIDS crisis. The show addresses the issue of the sublimation of sexuality through art and the fact that sexual liberation and/or sexually explicit work seems currently less visible due to the epidemic and its ravaging of the art community in recent years.

In her selections, Goldin emphasizes the effects of AIDS as a metaphor for the evolution of the gay aesthetic, as in the nostalgic photographic pairings of Allen Frame or the theatrical sculptures of Janet Stein. Peter Hujar’s elegant, male portraits and Mark Morrisroe’s self portraits also touch on this issue. Some of the work in the exhibition explores drug abuse as a related disease in terms of active use, drug recovery and spiritual reclamation: Ken Tisa, Tom Chesley, Clarence Elie and Shellburne Thurber. Goldin suggests that recovery is possible only through an artistic investigation of the disease and its side effects.

While the work of artists such as David Armstrong, David Wojnarowicz, Greer Lankton, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Jo Shane and Stephen Tashjian deals directly with AIDS, several of the artists treat sexuality in a more general way. Dorit Cypis’ conceptual piece about the female body and Perico Pastor’s figurative paintings speak in a positive or hopeful way about sexuality and gender in the wake of AIDS.

Janet Stein, Jane Dickson, Kiki Smith, Darrel Ellis, Margo Pelletier and Siobhan Liddell have created new work for the exhibition.

The exhibition is a tribute to Goldin’s friends—some who have died of AIDS and others who have found ways to respond to the disease through their art. From the specific point of a view of Goldin’s contemporaries, the show speaks to the concerns of the larger community of AIDS survivors. The exhibition examines the impact of this critical social issue on contemporary art. 

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PDF of Exhibition Catalogue