December / January #5 : The Arts: A View with a Room - by Stephen Greco

POZ - Health, Life and HIV
Subscribe to:
POZ magazine
E-newsletters
Join POZ: Facebook MySpace Twitter Pinterest
Tumblr Google+ Flickr MySpace
POZ Personals
Sign In / Join
Username:
Password:

Back to home » Archives » POZ Magazine issues




Table of Contents

Lisa Tiger Shows Her Claws

S.O.S.

Judith Light, Hollywood Activist

Spokes Model

Medical Marijuana

Where We Are, Where We're Going

WORLD's Champion

It Can't Happen Here

Tom Villard's Fall Season

Hollywood & AIDS

Going South

Dancing On Your Grave: Donna Minkowitz Gets Close To Fred Phelps, AIDS Funeral Picketer

It Pays To Advertise

Liquid Lunch

AIDS In America

Family Portrait

The Living End

AIDS Zen: A Visit to the Hospital

Hollywood's AIDS Moguls

Sex: Love Among the Ruins

Life: Hospitals Are Our Jails

Media: I Want My HIV

The Arts: A View with a Room

My View: Shifting Gears

POZ Insider

Call To Arms: Why Activism Matters

Checking In: Caro Diario

How Do You Really Feel?



Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle

Shingles

Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV


email print

December 1994 / January 1995

The Arts: A View with a Room

by Stephen Greco

How one living room changed a neighborhood

A guy down the street died a few weeks ago. I didn't know him, but I miss him terribly, because I'd gotten into the habit of regularly peering into his windows.

It was last spring when I noticed that the interior of this apartment, unlike those of most ground-floor spaces in New York City, was radically visible from the sidewalk. The windows were naked and once the weather warmed up, they were always open. There was often a bunch of cute, skinny, twenty-something guys hanging around inside, eating, talking on the phone, watching TV -- all the while illuminated by lighting that was nothing short of theatrical. The effect was clearly unignorable, which kept me from feeling like a pervert once I had begun to follow this little domestic diorama like a soap opera.

The show inside changes frequently. One time, votive candles would be burning on the mantelpiece; another time, disco music would be blasting into the street. Sometimes, in the background, you'd see a red glow emanating from another room or, in the foreground, the blue flicker of a video screen peeking up from the window sill. The element that changed most dramatically though -- and my biggest hint that whoever lived there might be gay (besides the shaved heads and the tank tops) -- were the slogans. Emblazoned on a mirrored wall at the back of the living room, in giant red letters, were phrases such as One Million and Counting and We Are All Victims! New ones came all the time. At first I sniffed at the idea of using one's private space for public display; then I came to welcome those daily affirmations that we are all, despite the distractions of Haiti and O.J., still living and dying in a world with AIDS.

I happen to know a real voyeur in my neighborhood who can show you where a certain bodybuilder likes to masturbate in the middle of the night with a pillow over his head. But he knew nothing about the AIDS shrine on my block, so I began to ask around. I was beginning to consider writing about the inhabitants and wanted to ask some questions: How old are they, what do they do for a living, how did they come to live this way, what kind of response are they getting from passers-by?

Ongoing, site-specific performance installations about AIDS are not the norm on my Brooklyn street. Throughout the summer you would see people slowing down when walking past the apartment, like they thought it might be OK to peer in for a moment but not like they'd been planning to do so. I never saw any violent reactions, which didn't surprise me, since what these guys were doing was not confrontational exactly; it was simply assertive. I couldn't help thinking how different it was from the way my lover Barry and I did AIDS seven years ago, five doors away.

After months in the hospital, Barry had returned home for his final weeks. Friends visited mournfully. Rabbis and shrinks made house calls. Barry's family and I took care of him as best we could, which, now that I think about it, often involved keeping the front drapes closed. Not that we were secretive about AIDS. Quite the contrary: Barry and I both wrote about it. Emotionally, however, I think we processed our day-to-day experience of the disease by way of the classic sighs and shudders that had been perfected during tuberculosis and invented, perhaps, during the Plague. The guys down the block, on the other hand, had not turned to religion or psychology for emotional paradigms but, amazingly enough, to art and performance, which had allowed them to come up with something as new to feeling as HIV was to virology. The result was a thoroughly modern presentation of suffering, if you will, involving anger, humor and the wisdom of MTV's The Real World. In a world of simulacra, this was a real show. And what is art but show?

If only more people had seen it. It was late in the summer, after I'd finally decided I should introduce myself, that the slogans grew more spiritual: You're Born. You Die. You're Reborn. A friend told me that one of the guys had AIDS and before long, I saw the windows draped with ghastly looking clear plastic tubing and IV bags. Then the show was over. A few weeks ago the blinds were pulled and lights are no longer visible inside. My friend told me the guy had died -- just a day after I had discussed writing this piece with my editor.

Of course, I regret waiting until too late to learn the man's name -- David -- let alone to say hello and trade vegetarian recipes. I keep hoping that there will be some way that his boyfriend, if he remains there, can keep the windows open to memorialize an act of creativity that was as natural as drawing breath. But closed as they are, the windows still say something: That time is indeed finite. If you want to invite yourself into the company of gifted people who are inventing new ways to live, you should do it now.

Scroll down to comment on this story.





Name:

(will display; 2-50 characters)

Email:

(will NOT display)

City:

(will display; optional)

Comment (500 characters left):

(Note: The POZ team reviews all comments before they are posted. Please do not include either ":" or "@" in your comment. The opinions expressed by people providing comments are theirs alone. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Smart + Strong, which is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by people providing comments.)

Comments require captcha.
Please enter this number for verification:

| Posting Rules



Hide comments

Previous Comments:


         

[Go to top]

Join POZ Facebook Twitter Google+ MySpace YouTube Tumblr Flickr
Quick Links
Current Issue

HIV 101
HIV Testing
Safer Sex
Find a Date
Newly Diagnosed
Disclosing Your Status
Starting Treatment
Search for the Cure
POZ Stories
POZ TV
Read the Blogs
Visit the Forums
Women
African American
Latino
Providers
Job Listings
Events Calendar


    CuteBoyinQns
    Jackson Heights
    New York


    Sloan1
    Dallas
    Texas


    youngbloodlatino
    Columbia
    Maryland


    thebake
    Sioux Falls
    South Dakota
Click here to join POZ Personals!
Ask POZ Pharmacist

Talk to Us
Poll
Do you enjoy books with HIV-positive characters?
Yes
No

Survey
Mind Matters

more surveys
Contact Us
We welcome your comments!
[ about Smart + Strong | about POZ | POZ advisory board | partner links | advertising policy | advertise/contact us | site map]
© 2014 Smart + Strong. All Rights Reserved. Terms of use and Your privacy.
Smart + Strong® is a registered trademark of CDM Publishing, LLC.