Join University of California, Riverside, professor of English, Robb Hernández, for an ‘80s flashback party in celebration of his recent book, Archiving an Epidemic: Art, AIDS, and the Queer Chicanx Avant-garde (NYU Press, 2019). Emboldened by the boom in art, fashion, music, and retail culture in 1980s Los Angeles, the iconoclasts of queer Aztlán—as Hernández terms the group of artists who emerged from East LA, Orange County, and other parts of Southern California during this period—developed a new vernacular with which to read the city in bloom. Tracing this important but understudied body of work, Archiving an Epidemic catalogs a queer retelling of the Chicana and Chicano art movement, from its origins in the 1960s, to the AIDS crisis and the destruction it wrought in the 1980s, and onto the remnants and legacies of these artists in the current moment. Hernández offers a vocabulary for this multi-modal avant-garde—one that contests the hetero-masculinity and ocular surveillance visited upon it by the larger Chicanx community, as well as the formally straight conditions of traditional archive-building, museum institutions, and the art world writ large.
With a focus on works by Mundo Meza (1955–85), Teddy Sandoval (1949–1995), and Joey Terrill (1955– ), and with appearances by Laura Aguilar, David Hockney, Robert Mapplethorpe, and even Eddie Murphy, Archiving an Epidemic composes a complex picture of queer Chicanx avant-gardisms questioning not what Chicanx art is, but what it could have been. The event is co-sponsored by the Riverside Art Museum, the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art, Culture & Industry of the Riverside Art Museum, and AIDS Health Care Foundation’s Somos LOUD (Latino Outreach and Understanding Division).