World AIDS Day: Open Community Circle and Screening

Installation View, Ecce Homo: The Drawings of General Idea, The Drawing Center, New York. October 7, 2022 - January 15, 2023. Photo: Daniel Terna.

Please join us on World AIDS day for an open community circle of remembrance and a film screening, held in conjunction with the ongoing exhibition Ecce Homo: The Drawings of General Idea.

Founded in Toronto in 1969 by AA Bronson, Felix Partz, and Jorge Zontal, General Idea is recognized today as a key participant in the Conceptual Art scene of the 1970s and 1980s. Produced from 1985 until shortly before the group's disbanding in 1994 following the deaths of Partz and Zontal from AIDS related causes, the drawings presented in Ecce Homo investigate motifs found throughout their multimedia works while introducing new themes inspired by a changing cultural landscape.

Zontal made drawings throughout the group’s existence but he drew more regularly from 1985 through General Idea’s last meetings in 1993, the years the exhibition takes as its focus. Notably, 1985 was the year the group made the decision to leave their home city of Toronto, which felt to them increasingly isolated from the global art world, for New York. It was also a time when their early joie de vivre was tempered by the pervasive presence of AIDS. In Bronson’s words, it was a period “during which we had to face and somehow incorporate the illness and death of most of our friends as well as Jorge and Felix themselves.” The exhibition's title, Ecce Homo, deliberately references a 1923 publication by German artist George Grosz chosen, according to Bronson, because “the anti-Semitism in Grosz’s narrative is mirrored by the homophobia in ours.” Bronson continues, “The title Ecce Homo in our case refers to General Idea, self-deprecatingly, as homos. It is a kind of self-portrait as the rejected part of society. In North America, we represented that part of society left to die in a pandemic, which conveniently ignored the white moneyed straight folk.”

From 12-6pm, The Drawing Center will host an open community circle in the exhibition, in remembrance of Jorge Zontal, Felix Partz, and other loved ones, relations, and kin lost to the AIDS epidemic.

At 6pm The Drawing Center will hold a screening of GENERAL IDEA: Art, AIDS and the fin de siècle. Chief Curator Claire Gilman will provide a brief introduction to the video, along with context as it relates to the drawings on view in Ecce Homo.