Hunter Reynolds is a visual artist and AIDS activist. He was a an early member of ACT UP, and in 1989 co-founded Art Positive, an affinity group of ACT-UP to fight homophobia and censorship in the arts. For over twenty years, Reynolds has been using photography, performances, and installations to express his experience as an HIV-positive gay man living in the age of AIDS. Reynolds’ works address issues of gender identity, political, social, and sexual histories, mourning and loss, survival, hope and healing.
For his project space at Artists Space, Reynolds presents Patina du Prey’s Memorial Dress, a black ball gown onto which the names of thousands of AIDS victims are printed in gold. The dress stands on a stage rotating to music composed by Edmund Campion, while viewers are invited to write comments and the names of lost friends and loved ones into a memorial book.
The Memorial Dress was created and first exhibited in 1993 at the ICA Boston, where for two months, Reynolds—as his alter ego Patina du Prey—performed daily wearing the dress. During this exhibition, over 3000 names were collected in the memorial book. In the following years, the Memorial Dress was exhibited at the NGBK in Berlin, the Karl Osthaus-Museums Hagen, Germany, and at 45 Greene Street, organized by Creative Time City Wide, as part of the 25th anniversary of Stonewall. By 1996, Reynolds had collected over 5000 names in the memorial books. As part of the Visual AIDS Archive Project, these 5000 names were added to a new second dress, which was again exhibited in Boston, completing the first healing circle.
This exhibition highlights the 14-year history of the creation of this significant AIDS Memorial. It includes the second Memorial Dress of 1996, the collected memorial books, as well as photographs and other paraphernalia. A wall weaving features all names collected between 1996 and 2007, and viewers are invited to add more names to the memorial book to be included in a new printing on a new dress.