‘A Mile Of Black Paper’ (2016) by Greg Thorpe

On Friday 2nd June 2017, Instigate Arts will proudly steward/curate “A mile of black paper’ by Greg Thorpe at the  ACT UP York Conference.


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(Fax machine, black spray paint, black fabric, white A4 paper, black marker pens)


“When The New York Times bought its first fax machine, ACT UP faxed them a mile of black paper to protest their silence on AIDS, effectively shutting down the machine.”

– Greenwich Village History


“There are two kinds of AIDS: AIDS of the past, and AIDS today. Neither one is over.”

– Sarah Schulman


This collaborative artwork entitled ‘A mile of black paper’ celebrates, commemorates and revives an activist ‘zap’ by ACT UP New York in order to memorialise those lost to AIDS, to inspire our own HIV/AIDS activism today, and to offer a platform to share thoughts, ideas, memories and feelings inspired by HIV/AIDS/ACT UP events.


The original intention of the ACT UP zap is lovingly subverted to make this mile of black paper into a celebration of communication and an expression of rage at the forced silence of those allowed to die from AIDS. The use of individual sheets of paper is also intended to reference the individual panels of the AIDS memorial quilt, the largest creative act of AIDS remembrance, while the fax machine itself is unplugged, spary-painted and inoperable, an historical relic.


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The first outing of the piece was at Islington Mill, Salford, at an event to celebrate the life and work of artist David Wojnarowicz and the publication of a new edition of his writings, Close To The Knives by Canongate Books. Dr Monica Pearl spoke about her research into AIDS in 20th century culture and her time as an ACT-UP NYC activist, performance artist Matt Fennemore gave performances from his work that responds to Wojnarowicz, we heard recitals from Close To The Knives and Cynthia Carr’s biography of Wojnarowicz, and shared short films, imagery and conversation.


The piece will next visit the ACT UP York Conference, where it will be stewarded/curated by Instigate Arts. Attendees are warmly invited to make their own contributions to the artwork and remote contributions to the piece are also welcome, please email your ‘fax’ to greg.thorpe@icloud.com

A mile of black paper:Emmanuel Barrouyer



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