Ranging from video diaries to documentary footage and oral histories, Documents: Art, AIDS & Activism in Chicago surveyed thirty years of media production by activists, artists, and educators working against HIV and AIDS in Chicago. The screening program highlighted specific histories ranging from early education and prevention efforts by and for black gay men to the influence of queer zines and comics, as well as presenting footage from three ACT UP/Chicago campaigns and reflections from women involved in the world’s longest running clinical research study on women living with HIV.
★ Maxsonn Smith Interviewed for Chicago Gay History, 2007 (4:57)
Video and interview by Tracy Baim
Maxsonn Smith reflects on organizing early HIV/AIDS education workshops for the African American gay community at Foster’s Bar and Martin’s Den in 1983, at a time when there was little discussion about AIDS in Chicago.
*This video can be viewed here: chicagogayhistory.com/biography.html?id=812
★ Short Fuse: The Story of an AIDS Activist, 1990 (excerpt, 15:54)
Directed by Rick Delaup and Sandra Quinn
Footage from ACT UP/Chicago’s 1988 “Target CTA (Chicago Transit Authority)” action, advocating for a sex positive safe sex ad campaign on city busses. Followed by footage of Danny Sotomayor (1958–1992) discussing his political cartoons.
★ Hokey Sapp Does SPEW, 1991 (excerpt, 7:32)
Camera and editing by Mary Patten; featuring Kate Schecter as Hokey Sapp; courtesy of Mary Patten and Steve Lafreniere
Scott Mendel, representing ACT UP and Queer Nation, and Robert Ford (1962–1994), founding publisher and co-editor of THING magazine, are interviewed at SPEW: The Homographic Convergence, the first international meeting of queer zine makers in Chicago, curated by Steve Lafreniere at Randolph Street Gallery in 1991.
★ Who’s Got the Power?, 1990 (2:30)
Produced by Suzanne Wright and Gerry Albarelli for DIVA TV
In 1990, ACT UP organized a national gathering in Chicago to target the American Medical Association, pharmaceutical companies and the insurance industry. This video features footage from the Women’s Caucus Action protesting the lack of an AIDS ward for women at Cook County Hospital. The hospital began admitting women to the AIDS ward the next day.
★ Where’s ACT UP?, 1995 (excerpt, 6:15)
Directed and edited by Mary Patten; interviews by Debbie Gould and Jeanne Kracher
An investigation into ACT UP’s absence from the 1995 Chicago Gay Pride Parade. “Trying to get some confirmation of our own sense of loss, we asked people questions that we couldn’t adequately answer ourselves.” -Mary Patten
★ World AIDS Day Prison Demonstration, 1994 (8:24)
Camera: Andy Cross; editing: Mary Patten
ACT UP/Chicago’s Prison Issues Committee worked in coalition with prisoners with AIDS, former prisoners, and prisoners’ rights groups to educate and fight for the demands of HIV-positive people in prison. In this video, ACT UP confronts officials at the Illinois Department of Corrections who refused to acknowledge the exponential rate of HIV infections in Illinois prisons.
★ Tales of the Cranky PWA (“AIDS ain’t what it used to be!”), 2005 (2:50)
by Ferd Eggan (1946–2007)
Ferd Eggan, co-founder of ACT UP Chicago, delivers an acerbic reflection on the shifting realities of living with AIDS in the era of the “AIDS cocktail.”
★ I’m Still Surviving: 20 Years of the Women’s Interagency HIV Study in Chicago, 2017 (11:00)
by Jennifer Brier and Matt Wizinsky, with design assistance by Alexander Hayashi and Joshua Hill
Established in 1993, the Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS) is the United States' longest running clinical research study on women living with HIV. History Moves (historymoves.org/), a public history project directed by Jennifer Brier, collaborated with a group of WIHS participants in Chicago to record their experiences. Their overlapping personal narratives, pieced together by designer Matt Wizinsky, produce a collage of social inequities and injustices as well as forms of self-care and personal liberation—a mosaic of recent and contemporary urban life.