Monday, August 16, 2010

"We Were There" Tells a Story That Needs Telling

Emmanuelle Antolin, Tamara Loewenstein, and Melonie Green
We Were There
June 10 – September 30, 2010
African American Arts & Culture Complex
762 Fulton Street @ McAllister
San Francisco, CA 94102-4119
(415) 292-6172

I recently visited “We Were There: The Lesbian Response to the Early AIDS Epidemic among Gay Men," a new exhibit showing now through September 30, co-curated by Melonie Green and Tamara Loewenstein. "We Were There" is also the name of a moving short film created in conjunction with the exhibit and directed by Emmanuelle Antolin. 

photo by Leigh Meryhew
I spoke with Antolin, Green, and Loewenstein about the project.

Q: Who helped you make this project happen? 
 TL:The National Queer Ar ts Festival and Queer Cultural Center of San Francisco awarded Emmanuelle Antolin with a small grant that allowed her to begin film production. The African American Arts & Culture Complex (sisters Melora and Melonie Green) have been incredibly generous with their space, resources and time. 

Q: What's the response been like so far? 
MG: Those who were featured in the project (via photographs, featured in the film, pamphlets on the walls, etc.) were so moved. Some were surprised to see their work on the walls. They certainly didn't expect to see their words on the walls. I think seeing the exhibition made things very real for them. The film was such an inspiration. It received laughs, tears, applause.

Q:  Describe the curatorial process for the exhibit.
TL: The curatorial process was a very collaborative one. Emmanuelle was able to gather most of the images during her research in New York City and at the GLBT Historical Society in San Francisco, among other resources. The three of us went through all the images we had gathered and decided together which ones should be key images or themes within the exhibition. Later, Melonie and I worked together to finalize our selection of photographs, images, posters and ephemera. From the beginning we wanted the space to have an ambiance of intensity that communicated the activist sensibility of the period.
MG: Tamara and I discussed putting the words on the walls. we had a few ideas. I suggested that we hand write the quotes ... because in the grand scheme of things, this was a DIY movement and seeing the quotes on the walls gave it a very organic and "real" vibe and feel. From there we decided to paste and post the posters on the walls unframed to continue that element of DIY and "in the moment" feel.

Q: What's the future of this project?  
EA: As we go further with this project, we feel that quality film production, in-depth research, interactive web presence and more are integral to making this piece come alive the way it is meant to. So far, I have funded the entire project from my personal savings, with the exception of a $500 seed grant from the Queer Cultural Center, and a few donations. I did this because I got into it, I knew this story had to be told, and had to be told right. Now I am seeking funding to help me complete the film and expand the project.  I'd love to talk to anyone who feels the same and would like to discuss funding.

No comments:

Post a Comment