These pages are from Diver, Dive into Me, a handmade book I created for the 2013 show NOT OVER: 25 Years of Visual AIDS, curated by Kris Nuzzi and Sur Rodney Sur, at La MaMa Galleria. By honoring the work of Visual AIDS since its founding in 1988, the show looked at the ongoing history of HIV/AIDS & the connections between multiple generations of artists, affected by HIV/AIDS, both living and dead, many of whom live/lived in NYC.
The book is inspired by the paintings, writings, and sculptures of Paul Thek, who died of AIDS in 1988. I love Thek’s work for its color and immediacy, for where it can take me in considering possibilities for embodiment & vulnerability. I was drawn to his Diver figure, which appears in several of his paintings. I saw the Diver as a symbol for transformation and risk. I look at the book now and witness myself, just a few years ago, trying to be as present in my body as I could be, with all my vulnerable brown feelings, my various shames and fears, my sexuality, my loneliness, my longings. It's a painted book, typewritten, collaged into, sewn, marked. I remember wanting to perform all of my intentions in the book through a ritual. Before sewing the pages together, I enclosed each sheet between my butt cheeks, so that each piece of paper was imprinted, drawn into. It was a messy way to get to know my body through a site where many of us may store our shame: the anus.
This book is a document of my body.
Aldrin Valdez is a Pinoy painterpoet. They grew up in Manila and Long Island. Aldrin has been awarded fellowships from Queer/Art/Mentorship and Poets House. Their visual work and writings have been published in ArtSlant, Belladonna* chaplet series, Poetry Project's The Recluse, Uncompromising Tang, and elsewhere.