Galleries from the Netherlands, Eastern Europe, Mexico and the Soviet Union won't be the only new additions to the Art Fair this year. Also having a booth for the first time is A Day Without Art, a response to the World Health Organization's World AIDS Day.
A Day Without Art is an annual Dec. 1 event, in which museums, galleries and performance spaces nationwide close their doors, shroud art works or hold special performances to commemorate the huge toll AIDS has taken on the art community. The event's title is a metaphor for fears that, if the disease continues unchecked, the day could come that the world would be, literally, without art.
Organizers of local Day Without Art events--which range from poetry readings at the Museum of Contemporary Art to a female impersonator beauty pageant at East Los Angeles' Self-Help Graphics--hope to use the Art Fair to get the word out and draw more than the usual activist art crowd to their activities.
They also hope to link up with recent heightened public awareness of AIDS that resulted from basketball star Earvin "Magic" Johnson's recent revelation that he had contracted the virus that causes AIDS.
"Even though we've been involved (in the AIDS crusade) for a long time, I don't see that people in the art world are better educated than anyone else," said L.A. artist Renee Edgington, who is organizing the booth. "So you take any opportunity you have to get the information out and try to distribute a bit of reality (about the disease)."
The booth, which was arranged at the last minute after Art Fair director Brian Angel visited a leader of the national Day Without Art movement in New York last week, will display both visual art and video works dealing with AIDS.
Among the works to be featured include paintings by several members of the Latino gay and lesbian artists group VIVA!; works by Los Angeles artists Kim Abeles, John Di Stefano and Laura Aguilar; the videos "Safer Sex Shorts" and "Video Against AIDS Project"; and an altar by the artists collective Powers of Desire.
Powers of Desire has also created a special Day Without Art poster. It critiques the Art Fair's controversial advertisements that bill art as "The Last Vice," following a crossed out list of the words "Sex," "Drugs" and "Money." In the Day Without Art poster, the words "Abstinence," "Ignorance" and "Apathy" are instead crossed out, leaving "Safe(r) Sex" as "The Last Vice."
Visitors to the booth will also be directed to an AIDS information table sponsored by Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, which will also include flyers about the many upcoming Day Without Art events.
A Day Without Art began auspiciously in 1989, but failed to gain momentum last year and has, for the most part, been observed in Los Angeles only within confined, activist art circles. This is the first year that the Art Fair, which draws an estimated 30,000 visitors annually, has been held before the event's Dec. 1 observance.
"We would like, through the Art Fair, to stimulate more interest in the event and what it stands for," said Angel. He added that the fair will also take part in the Ribbon Project, in which red ribbons are worn and passed out to express compassion for people living with AIDS. Angel said that he hopes to also schedule some sort of forum for visiting dignitaries to "talk over the objective" of a Day Without Art and World AIDS Day.
"Many of these countries, like the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, have a great deal of time to make up (in terms of raising AIDS awareness) and hopefully the fair will provide not just a taste of L.A. art culture for them, but also opportunities to develop this kind of social awareness as well," Angel said.