“LIFE WITH VIRUS”: Teiji Furuhashi in New York

When 30 Apr 2021
8:00PM - 10:00PM
Where Visual AIDS
526 W. 26th Street #510
New York, NY 10001
United States

For our International Curatorial Residency with Japanese curator Sho Akita, Visual AIDS presents an online conversation about the work and activism of Japanese artist Teiji Furuhashi (1960–1995), a founding member of the performance collective Dumb Type and an outspoken AIDS activist in Japan.

This program brings together friends of Teiji Furuhashi from Japan and the US to shed light on the cultural exchange that he facilitated between New York and Kyoto. Participants include the renowned artist and sex worker advocate Bubu de la Madeleine, composer Toru Yamanaka (aka DJ Lala), and the curator Barbara London, who acquired Furuhashi’s work for the Museum of Modern Art. Moderated by Sho Akita.

From April 26 to May 9, Visual AIDS will host a special online presentation of Dumb Type’s 1994 performance S/N, a provocative response to the AIDS crisis in Japan. A private screening link for the 90 minute video will be emailed to attendees who RSVP for this event. This is the first time that documentation of S/N has been presented online.

Founded in 1984 by fifteen art students working in Kyoto and Osaka, Dumb Type’s experimental theater projects combine dance and performance with ambitious multimedia installations. Teiji Furuhashi, a central figure in the group, visited New York frequently, performing in drag at the Pyramid Club alongside artists like John Kelly and Lypsinka. He brought the ethos of East Village nightlife to Kyoto, starting a monthly drag party called “Diamonds Are Forever” that continues to this day.

Inspired in part by the AIDS activism he encountered in New York, Furuhashi became a leading voice in Japanese AIDS activism. In 1992, after spending several months in New York, Furuhashi returned to Kyoto and sent a letter to his friends and collaborators titled “LIFE WITH VIRUS,” sharing his HIV status and reflecting on the stigma and morality surrounding AIDS. The letter prompted Dumb Type to develop a major new performance responding to the AIDS crisis in Japan. Titled S/N, the performance used the the notion of a “signal to noise” ratio as a structuring metaphor, challenging Japan’s silence about AIDS with explicit discussion of gay identity, stigma, sex work, and border politics. Incorporating a two-level set, elaborate choreography, live video, and projection, the performance was critically acclaimed and toured to more than twenty cities around the world.

Access Note: The conversation will include live, consecutive interpretation in both English and Japanese. Live captioning will also be available in English.

This program is organized with Japanese curator Sho Akita as part of Visual AIDS’ International Curatorial Residency program. During his virtual residency, Sho will research Furuhashi’s time in New York, building an archive of the creative exchange that Furuhashi facilitated between Japan and the United States. Read more about Sho’s research on the Visual AIDS blog.

Visual AIDS’ curatorial residency was developed in partnership with Residency Unlimited and is supported in part by a grant from the Japan Foundation, New York. Visual AIDS thanks Dumb Type and Normal Screen for making this project possible.

For more information please click here.
Image courtesy of the event organizer.