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CFP: AIDS and Memory

Drain: A Journal of Contemporary Art and Culture

Special Issue, AIDS and Memory

Ricky Varghese


What is called AIDS is, for consciousness and for thought, a necessarily impossible object.

– William Haver, The Body of This Death


And if memory encrypts what is lost in death, it also preserves the lost other and our libidinal attachment to it, although the conditions for the survival of love seem to be confusion and anxiety.

– Sarah Brophy, Witnessing AIDS


The history, memory, and lived experience of AIDS have changed over the course of the last three decades, so have the aesthetic practices and critical and cultural meanings tied to it. This issue of Drain invites theorists, artists, critics, writers, and commentators to think alongside us to consider the ways by which the representation of AIDS has evolved and continues to evolve in the realm of aesthetic and artistic practice, to think what it means to remember and also consider the persistence and insistence of memory and commemoration as an always already, perhaps, built-in facet to the attempted representation of AIDS. What might be the ethical, socio-political, and cultural stakes at hand in thinking memory, or commemoration, in the same instance as the aesthetic representation of AIDS? What might these artistic instances open up for with respect to dialogue, and thereby articulate, in their attempt to represent both the struggle to commemorate historical loss and the ever-present impulse to never forget these losses? How are artists, theorists and cultural producers taking these stakes into consideration in light of how the very lived experiences of AIDS change and evolve across racial, gendered, sexual, and classed divides and temporalities? Is it, in the final analysis, possible to think the “impossible” as such when it comes to AIDS?


The deadline for submissions to this issue will be Friday, April 15, 2016. This issue will be led by Ricky Varghese. Please send submissions to: