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Of Generations and Gentrification
Bowery Boogy, New York on March 21, 2018
As the unrelenting winds of the international corporate gentrification keeps eroding away the deep, rich, soil of our culture, it also disposes of “neighborhood” and “community.” It affects both collective memory and history. For example: changing the name of PS 122 into Performance Space New York obliterates the connection to the previous 30-year history.
Another more natural force of gentrification is death. With the passing of one generation, so too passes opportunity. Cultures also die.
In our generation one of the most vicious, devastating, plague-like forms the wrath came disguised as an immune destroying pandemic. AIDS took away so many of our leading lights, brightest minds, original thinkers, friends, associates, neighbors. It is up to us to make sure the names and memories of those who passed, often, too young, too early in their journey, are remembered.
If we do not preserve our own history, then who will? For some of us, remembering is not a burden, but more of a responsibility and an honor.
To honor the memory of some community members AIDS had taken away, the 2018 NY ACKER Awards, included in the recipient’s award box, a bio-booklet with a section dedicated to the memory, a hand-drawn portrait on a coffee cup by Zito, a copy of the Book of the Dead, Bearing Witness, cover lettered by Steven “Tabboo” Tashjian, filled with over 1100 names written down by Eugene Fedorko.
For those interested in remembering by viewing a series of exquisitely drawn portraits, then, HOWL Happening has mounted a must see – the “John Kelly: Sideways into the Shadows” exhibition, running through March 25.
John is a multitalented artist, whose highly praised performance work I became aware of because performance artist SUNPK (aka Peter Kwaloff) made it possible for me to document Whispers, the Sunday night Pyramid Club Drag show hosted by that always funny remarkable MC Mark “Hapi Phace” Phred. Yes, John is without question a blessed performer, but I was a little taken aback at his drawing skill. The work is simply beautiful. He obviously felt a strong connection to the 40 people he drew. The drawings are keeping the names and the spirits of those gone souls alive in our thoughts.
As a documentarian, I see one of my duties, in the war against the part of the international corporate effort to take over and destroy our memories and past, is saving the memories of those who made so much possible for so many of us. And, beyond the quality of this HOWL! Happening John Kelly show, is just the fact that this show is a Never Forget, example of another form of protecting our past.