Hunter Reynolds. For more than twenty-five years Reynolds has created works that explore and reflect upon his experience as an HIV positive gay man. Drawing on his own personal history, as well as those of his friends, Reynolds probes issues of gender identity, survival, loss, socio-political constructions of self, history, and the processes of mourning and healing. The exhibition will feature large-scale photo weavings, a new video work and a mummification performance that together reflect Reynolds’ vision of himself, his community, and his role as a long-term survivor.
The central focus of the exhibition will be Survival AIDS 2, a series of photo weavings created from a composite of scanned newspaper clippings and imagery from Reynolds’ life and past work. The Survival AIDS series was born after Reynolds suffered a series of HIV strokes, and lost much of the use of the right side of his body. The works in the exhibition feature portions of newspaper clippings that Reynolds collected between 1989 and 1993 about AIDS and gay culture, which he has altered – swapping imagery and headlines, removing portions of articles and replacing them with stories or photos close to him, including for example a picture of himself as his alter ego Patina du Prey, the first article ever written about him when he was a child, and a collage he made for a lover in the ‘80s. While his earlier works in the Survival AIDS series sought to preserve a particular moment in history, this collection turns inwards, using historical, politically charged documents to recreate a visual retelling of his own personal narrative.
Also on view will be Medication Reminder, a new video work that Reynolds created in collaboration with his dear friend, the late artist Katherine White. Following his HIV strokes, Reynolds was forced to take a strict regimen of pills twice daily, which he was loath to do. To help ease the process, White would call Reynolds each day to remind him to take his HIV medication. The work is composed of a fragmented screen, depicting Reynolds listening to White’s voicemails, sorting his pills, and taking his medicine, overlaid with audio clips of Reynolds describing the nature of their collaboration, White’s role in his life, his reluctance to taking his medicine each day, and his fear of several of the pills’ side effects. Interspersed throughout the video we hear the rhythmic, haunting loop of White’s voice: “Take your meds, I love you, take your meds, I love you, bye.”
The body – expressed through the performance and mummy skins that are both on view and depicted in the photo weavings, the physical nature of Medication Reminder, and images of Reynolds as Patina du Prey – is a central image throughout the exhibition. Reynolds’ interest in creating body-centric works predated his HIV diagnosis, and has continued to evolve as his own physical self changes, suffers, and heals. Taken together the works in the exhibition tell Reynolds’ own personal mythology, as well as that of his community and those he loved.