General Idea: Imagevirus
by Gregg Bordowitz
With a conversation between
AA Bronson and Gregg Bordowitz

Friday, December 10, 2010

Artist Talk & Book Launch

To celebrate the launch of General Idea: Imagevirus, a new book by Gregg Bordowitz for Afterall Books' One Work series, Artists Space hosted a discussion between Bordowitz and General Idea member AA Bronson.

Imagevirus started in the mid-1980s, when AA Bronson, Felix Partz and Jorge Zontal, working together as General Idea, created a symbol using the acronym AIDS, boldly arranging the letters in a manner that resembled Robert Indiana’s LOVE logo. This launched a series of paintings, sculptures, videos, posters, exhibitions and ephemera that from 1987 to 1994 used the mechanism of viral transmission to investigate the term AIDS as both word and image.

Emerging out of the 1960s Canadian communal counterculture, an environment populated by experimentations with gender, media and polymorphous perversity, General Idea came together as a three-man outfit of anti-art art-pranksters who worked prolifically and exploited almost every medium, from print and exhibition to broadcast. The group thrilled and confounded, but always delivered an extraordinary display of control over both format and dissemination. Imagevirus is one of their most important works, and the perfect illustration of their way of working.

In the book, Gregg Bordowitz, an artist and a professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, analyzes Imagevirus from the perspective of his own involvement with activist art initiatives in New York during the 1980s and 90s. Reconsidering the battles fought over sexuality and representation in those years, he explores how Imagevirus infected urban spaces across the world, offering a new model for artistic production, one strongly suited to ideological struggle.

AA Bronson co-founded General Idea (1969-1994). He is currently the artistic director of the Institute for Art, Religion, and Social Justice, which he founded in 2008 at Union Theological Seminary. Exhibitions of Bronson’s work have been held at Vienna Secession (2000), the MCA Chicago (2001), the MIT List Visual Arts Center (2002), and The Power Plant in Toronto (2003).  An upcoming retrospective of General Idea is slated to open at the Musée d’art Moderne de la Ville (Paris) in February of 2011. Some of his more recent publications include GayHouse(2010), Queer Zines(2008), and AA Bronson's School For Young Shamans(2008).

Published by Afterall Books, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-8463806-5-5


General Idea, Image Virus, 2010