Ned Asta, illustration for The Faggots and Their Friends Between Revolutions, 1977
This panel discussion, moderated by Gregg Bordowitz, will bring together artists, activists, and writers including Ned Asta, AJ Lewis, Sur Rodney (Sur), and Jeannine Tang to explore legacies of radical queer publishing and print culture from the 1970s to today. The event celebrates the newly released edition of The Faggots and Their Friends Between Revolutions (Nightboat Books, 2019) on the occasion of Stonewall’s fiftieth anniversary, and will feature readings of historic manifestos and texts. Written by Larry Mitchell with lush illustrations by Ned Asta, and originally published by Calamus Books in 1977, The Faggots and Their Friends Between Revolutions is an underground classic—part fable and part manifesto—about chosen family and queer insurgency, loosely based on the Lavender Hill commune outside of Ithaca, NY, in the 1970s.
In 2017, Morgan Bassichis organized a performative adaption of The Faggots and Their Friends Between Revolutions as part of the exhibition “Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon” (2017) at the New Museum, with collaborators TM Davy, DonChristian Jones, Michi Osato, and Una Osato; set design by Anna Betbeze; and outside eyes by Sacha Yanow. The Faggots and Their Friends Between Revolutions: The Musical was presented in a series of three “new moon potluck musical theater” evenings in the New Museum’s Sky Room. Bassichis, Betbeze, Davy, Michi Osato, and Una Osato have continued their research into the social history of the book with their installation Lavender Hill Historical Society (2019), currently on view in the exhibition “Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall” at the Brooklyn Museum.
Ned Asta was born in Brooklyn. Asta has been a member of the Moosewood Restaurant Collective in Ithaca, NY, since 1980, and was a founding member of the Lavender Hill Commune. Asta was a member of the New York–based queer theater troupe Hot Peaches in the late 1970s, and later cofounded the Ithaca Breast Cancer Alliance with Andi Gladstone.
Gregg Bordowitz is a professor and director of the Low-Residency MFA program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He was an early participant in New York’s ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), where he cofounded various video collectives—including Testing the Limits, an advocacy group within ACT UP, and DIVA (Damned Interfering Video Activists)—to communicate harm-reduction models to a broad public in his collaborative works. His own videos and television broadcasts, such as some aspect of a shared lifestyle (1986) and Fast Trip, Long Drop (1993), juxtapose performance documentation, archival footage, role-play, and recordings of protest demonstrations, drawing influence from feminist conceptual art. In recent years, Bordowitz has increasingly introduced poetry and performance into his work, exploring histories of televised stand-up comedy in works such as Only Idiots Smile and Some Styles of Masculinity (both 2017).
Abram J. (AJ) Lewis is a postdoctoral fellow in Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies at Grinnell College. Lewis’s research and teaching areas include queer and feminist theory, disability studies, trans studies, the history of sexuality, postsecular studies, and US activist history. His first book project, The Falling Dream: Unreason and Enchantment in the Gay Liberation Movement, examines queer activist challenges to secularism and reason at the end of the social movement era. He is also working on a history of “trans” activism before the emergence of the transgender movement in the 1990s. Lewis’s writing has appeared in Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities, Journal of the History of Sexuality, Radical History Review, Scholar & Feminist Online, and the anthology Trap Door: Trans Cultural Production and the Politics of Visibility (2017). Lewis is a founder of the NYC Trans Oral History Project, a community archive dedicated to preserving the stories of transgender New Yorkers, built in partnership with the New York Public Library and local activist groups. Prior to coming to Grinnell, Lewis held a postdoctoral fellowship in the Sexualities Project at Northwestern University.
Sur Rodney (Sur) is a writer, artist, archivist, and activist. In 1980, Sur became a member of the Blackheart Collective, a group of gay black poets, writers, and performance artists. His writings from this period have been featured in publications such as The Road Before Us: 100 Gay Black Poets (1991) and Words of Fire (1995). From 1983 to ’88, Sur was codirector, with Gracie Mansion, of New York’s Gracie Mansion Gallery. For his work within the HIV/AIDS community, Sur was invited to join the board of Visual AIDS in the mid-1990s; with their support, Sur cofounded the Archive Project, which supports artists with HIV/AIDS in the management of their estates, with Geoffrey Hendricks and Frank Moore. In 2002, Sur assisted Hendricks in organizing the historic exhibition “Critical Mass: Happenings, Fluxus, Performance, Intermedia, and Rutgers University, 1958–1972” (2003). Sur has archived the works of artists George Deem and Lorraine O’Grady and the estates of Angel Borrero, Brian Buczak, Buster Cleveland, Al Hansen, Gayle Kirkpatrick, Andreas Senser, and Stephen Varble, among other artists. Select performances include Nipplemuse, Envoy Gallery, New York (2009); Yellow, Museum Ludwig, Cologne (2005); Wedding Event, Judson Memorial Church, New York (1995); Untitled (Taped Mouth), Gracie Mansion Gallery, New York (1983); Sur Rodney Sur Show and the All New Sur Rodney Sur Show, Manhattan Cable Television and Mudd Club, New York (1980); and Sirloin Steak, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (1977).
Jeannine Tang writes about contemporary art, visual culture, and exhibitions. She taught art and curatorial history at the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College between 2010 and 2019, and joins the New School as Assistant Professor in Modern and Contemporary Art History and Visual Studies in summer 2019. She has contributed to such publications as Artforum, Art Journal, GLQ, Journal of Visual Culture, and Theory, Culture & Society, along with exhibition catalogues and anthologies including Trap Door: Trans Cultural Production and the Politics of Visibility (2017). In 2018, with Lia Gangitano and Ann Butler, she cocurated the exhibition “The Conditions of Being Art: Pat Hearn Gallery and American Fine Arts, Co. (1983–2004)” at the Hessel Museum of Art. She is presently working on a book on profiling as figuration in the 1970s, a monograph on Julia Scher’s queer surveillance installations of the 1990s, and a project on contemporary legacies of the British penal code in South and Southeast Asia.