1985

Paintouts

Cliff Hengst, from the series Paintouts, 2009; gouache on newsprint

 

  1. “The game is a machine composed of interconnected mechanistic devices. These devices facilitate bad faith interaction. . . . A con or snow job is the site at which X preys upon the hopes, fears, and anxieties of Y for ulterior motives and/or personal gain. The machinations which vehiculate this manipulation can have wide effect — ranging from the aftermath of minor mischief to serial or mass deaths.” — Cady Noland, excerpt from “Towards a Metalanguage of EVIL,” originally published in BALCON No. 4, 1989.

 

Paintouts

Cliff Hengst, from the series Paintouts, 2009; gouache on newsprint

 

watercolor

Cliff Hengst, untitled, 2012; ink on paper, 11 x 14 in.

 

 

 

 

Paintouts

Cliff Hengst, from the series Paintouts, 2009; gouache on newsprint

 

  1. Michael Jackson and Lionel Ritchie cowrite the song “We are the World,” which is sung by a juggernaut of celebrity vocalists. The proceeds of this, the biggest selling single ever, are donated to the impoverished of Africa.

 

Paintouts

Cliff Hengst, from the series Paintouts, 2009; gouache on newsprint

 

    1. While AIDS has been known about publicly since 1981, which was one year into Reagan’s first term, it is not until now that this president speaks the word a couple of times during a press conference, and only when asked directly about what to do about school children with AIDS — his answer is, segregation. It will be another full year before he slips the word into his State of the Union Address, almost as a side note, and yet still another year before he consciously dedicates an entire speech to a subject that, at that point, will have already killed nearly 50,000. This government silence is a source of great anger for communities suffering the loss from this widespread pandemic. Three years into his SECOND term as president before he can truly confront a four-letter acronym: what do you make of that?It puts me in awe of the power of words. What is his party, his staff, and he afraid will happen when the word is heard by the public spoken sympathetically by an American president? What’s the strategy in not mentioning the elephant in the room? It is as if putting the word on the president’s lips will infect him and his cabinet. It carries dark magic. This name linked to a disease of undesirables has to remain unspoken as long as possible in order for the curse of it to work against the targeted populations. It sounds like a conspiracy theory, and yet it is exactly how it is going down. Until 1987, HIV will remain a virus of pariahs, at least in how it is portrayed and understood. Because, what is not as unspoken as the word AIDS, is a sentiment that these are populations (queers, junkies, whores) the planet might be better off without.

 

Paintouts

Cliff Hengst, from the series Paintouts, 2009; gouache on newsprint

 

 

untitled

Cliff Hengst, untitled, 2012; ink on paper, 14 x 11 in.

 

 

 

Paintouts

Cliff Hengst, from the series Paintouts, 2009; gouache on newsprint

 

Paintouts

Cliff Hengst, from the series Paintouts, 2009; gouache on newsprint

 

 

Paintouts

Cliff Hengst, from the series Paintouts, 2009; gouache on newsprint

 

  1. Maybe the Reagan administration is right about their ritual silence. Because, in the future (in 1987), when President Reagan does succumb to the pressure and the death toll, and admit publicly that there is a force out there to be dealt with called “AIDS” . . .  in that same year things will start happening. ACT-UP (the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) will form in New York and spread like wildfire through the States and then throughout the globe. The UK Secretary of State and Princess Diana will be photographed shaking hands with AIDS patients. Some public service announcements will start stressing becoming informed about HIV, instead of merely using fear tactics: and the public will be reminded that unlike governments, a disease does not discriminate. The first panel of The AIDS Memorial Quilt will be sewn. The first antiretroviral drug to be used as treatment for AIDS will be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. And most importantly, AIDS will start to be talked about seriously in places where previously people had followed Reagan’s example of silence. Silence = Death will become the most recognized symbol of AIDS activism, and in 1987 that silence will finally be broken.

 

watercolor

Cliff Hengst, untitled, 2012; watercolor on paper, 10 x 8 in.

 

untitled

Cliff Hengst, untitled, 2012; ink on paper, 22 x 30 in.

 

  1. The video below, which is completely improvised, all of the images in this post, and these following words are by Cliff Hengst: “In 1985, I was 23 years old, and I was still trying to figure out my life. I was very much in the closet and involved with religion and its teachings. But things were changing quick. I started having intimate relations with men (and one woman) and going to late-night illegal parties set up in random warehouses in LA. I also started going to Community College in Pasadena. Psychology classes took off my blinders: culture, design and philosophy crept into every level of my consciousness. It was the beginning of my renaissance, and things were never quite the same.”

 

 

Paintouts

Cliff Hengst, from the series Paintouts, 2009

 

Arcade

Cliff Hengst, Arcade, 2012; watercolor and ink on paper, 5 x 8 in.

 

Red Lights

Cliff Hengst, Red Lights, 2012; watercolor and ink on paper, 14 x 10 in.

 

Leave a comment

Please tell us what you think. We really love conversation, and we’re happy to entertain dissenting opinions. Just no name-calling, personal attacks, slurs, threats, spam, and the like, please. Those ones we reserve the right to remove.

required

Sign Up

Join our newsletter for infrequent updates on new posts and Open Space events.
  • Required, will not be published