Scope and Contents
An interview with AA Bronson conducted 2017 March 3, 5, and 6, by Theodore Kerr, for the Archives of American Art's Visual Arts and the AIDS Epidemic: An Oral History Project, at Bronson's home and studio, in Berlin, Germany.
Scope and Contents
Bronson speaks of his mother's comparison between WWII-era London and New York City during the AIDS crisis; the community that formed in St. Vincent's Hospital in New York during the AIDS crisis; his early childhood in Fort Nelson, Edmonton, St. Jean d'Iberville, and Ottawa, Canada; the development of his sexuality; early childhood fascination with library books; regular visits to the Royal Ontario Museum and National Gallery of Canada as an adolescent ; collecting architecture books and later studying architecture at the University of Manitoba; dropping out of university in 1967 to help form a commune and free school in Winnipeg; watching the commune grow to 65 people and operate on a consensus model of governance; working in Toronto for Coach House Press and Theatre Passe Muraille; the beginnings and interpersonal dynamic of General Idea; leading Gestalt therapy workshops; General Idea's interest in countering the notion of artist as individual genius; organizing File magazine and Art Metropole as correspondence-driven endeavors; having regular exhibitions in Europe by the late 1970s; moving to New York in 1986; the genesis of the AA Bronson persona; General Idea's aesthetic and output; General Idea's AIDS-related artwork; caring for Jorge Zontal and Felix Partz from General Idea, during the height of their HIV-related illnesses in the early 1990s; going to nightclubs and sex clubs in New York as a reprieve from caretaking; the difference in AIDS healthcare and AIDS activism in Toronto and New York; Zontal and Partz's deaths; the ongoing trauma of losing loved ones to HIV/AIDS; the beginnings and development of his solo art career from the mid-1990s to the present; creating the General Idea archive and catalogue raisonne in the early 2000s; developing a professional healing practice in the 1990s and early 2000s; the incorporation of healing into his artistic persona; directing Printed Matter from 2004 to 2011; developing several book fairs, including the LA Art Book Fair; attending Union Theological Seminary; studying Tibetan Buddhism; and the role of the internet in his current collaborations and community-building work. Bronson also recalls Robert Henforth, Murray McLauchlan, Alison and Peter Smithson, Danny Freedman, Gilbert & George, Joseph Beuys, John Armleder, Ray Johnson, Chrysanne Stathacos, Lawrence Weiner, Susan Harrison, Barbara London, Ydessa Hendeles, Matthias Herrmann, Barr Gilmore, Jean-Cristophe Ammann, Ealan Wingate, Andrew Zealley, Max Schumann, Thurston Moore, Serene Jones, Terence Koh, Garrick Gott, Jonathan Katz, and others.