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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Museum presents two exhibits on AIDS crisis
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Vern Hester
2016-11-30

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On Nov. 18, the International Museum of Surgical Science presented two exhibits that document very different aspects of the AIDS epidemic.

The first—"Affinity in the Tall Grasses of California," by photographer/video artist/performer Whit Forrester—chronicled life and work on a medical cannabis farm in upstate California. The second—a video screening of Ellen Spiro's 1991 documentary ( In )Visible Women—depicted the heroic responses of three women with AIDS in the context of their respective communities.

Forrester's exhibit has documented life and work on a California cannabis farm since 2011 and images included in the exhibit were taken at an LGBTQ owned and operated farm. The exhibit chronicles the history of Proposition 215, also known as The Compassionate Care Act of 1996, which is a California state law allowing the use of cannabis to relieve symptoms of HIV/AIDS and the side effects of the existing treatments as well as for cancer patients. Prop 215 was originally spearheaded by marijuana activist Dennis Peron in memory of his late partner Jonathon West, who, like many, had used medical cannabis to relieve symptoms of HIV infection.

The video screening is in observation of HIV/AIDS Awareness Month and is focused on the impact of the epidemic on women and communities of color. ( In )Visible Women, which runs continually on a loop, is set to play through Sunday, Dec. 4. On Tuesday, Dec. 6, Marlon Riggs' 1992 documentary Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien will then run, depicting five HIV-positive Black gay men speaking out about their individual experiences confronting AIDS through music, poetry and quiet self-discovery. Both ( In )Visible Women and Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien were included in The Fear of Disclosure Project ( 1994 ) produced by Phil Zwicker and Jonathon Lee.

Forrester has exhibited as well as performed nationally and internationally in venues including Art Basel in Miami and Filter Gallery in Chicago.


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