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Vital Archive
Revisiting Group Material’S Aids Timeline
March 8 – April 5, 2009
→ CCS Bard Galleries
Curated by
  • Sabrina Locks
Part of
Exhibition Category
Thesis Exhibitions

Selection and presentation of artwork, documentation, archival material, and new research around the historical exhibition AIDS Timeline (1989) created by New York City-based artist collaborative Group Material  (1979-1996). Vital Archive revisits this historical exhibition through research in the vast archive of the project, tracing material and cultural relations produced in AIDS Timeline and partaking in ongoing and ephemeral processes of historical inquiry and formulation of cultural memory.


In the 1980s Group Material put forth a model of collaborative exhibition-making as an art practice that decisively sought to re-situate the grounds, work, material and politics of art. AIDS Timeline (1989) was a project by Group Material that took place at the Berkeley University Art Museum, MATRIX Gallery, in November 1989 through January 1990. The exhibition examined the landscape of AIDS in the U.S. during a crucial historical period—from its status as medical epidemic circa 1979 through its mutation into widespread cultural crisis by 1989. AIDS Timelinematerialized a dense cross-section of societal responses to and constructions of AIDS through artworks, artifacts, media accounts, medical statistics, governmental policies, activist initiatives, community organizations and public opinion—taking into account the particular social contexts and location of its presentation at the University of Berkeley.

AIDS Timeline was subsequently re-versioned for exhibitions at the Wadsworth Atheneum MATRIX Gallery (September – November 1990) and for the 1991 Whitney Biennial (April – June 1991).  Group Material members at the time were Doug Ashford, Julie Ault, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, and Karen Ramspacher.


Founded in 1979 New York City-based artist collaborative Group Material created over fifty exhibitions and public projects in the U.S. and Europe exploring the interrelations of aesthetics, culture and politics. In 1980 thirteen original members of the group opened a storefront space at 244 East 13th Street in the East Village with a program of exhibitions and events around topical social issues and themes. After one year in the space they shut down operations, and from 1981 until they ceased activities in 1996, Group Material constituted a flexible membership of three to five artists who organized projects in the public sphere—function as a medium for collective cultural production and public address.

Vital Archive │ Revisiting Group Material’s AIDS Timeline is curated by Sabrina Locks as part of the requirements for the master of arts degree in curatorial studies.


Student curated exhibitions at CCS Bard are made possible with support from the Rebecca and Martin Eisenberg Student Exhibition Fund; Mitzi and Warren Eisenberg; and the Patrons, Supporters, and Friends of the Center for Curatorial Studies.