Jonathan D. Katz keynote, “A Viral Theory of Art: AIDS and the Aesthetics of Protest”

Thursday, February 25, 2021 - 6:30pm to 8:30pm


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This location is ADA accessible

For the 25th Annual Graduate Student Symposium on the History of Art, Jonathan D. Katz will deliver an online keynote lecture titled “A Viral Theory of Art: AIDS and the Aesthetics of Protest.” Registration is free for the lecture and online symposium.

Felix Gonzalez-Torres (1957–1996) once compared his art to the workings of a virus, saying, “I want to be like a virus that belongs to the institution.” At the time, the virus that was killing him provided a model for his relationship with the museum world. The defining characteristic of HIV is its ability to camouflage itself within the immune system—to appear to be part of the system it is intent on destroying. In this talk, Katz traces the history of this viral approach to art, from the Pictures Generation through the upheavals of the AIDS epidemic and into contemporary activist art, exploring how and why protest today so often resembles the very forms it works against.