La Galleria: Cell Count

May 31 - June 16, 2018


La MaMa Galleria | 47 Great Jones Street

Gallery Hours: Wednesday to Sunday 1 to 7PM, or by appointment

Curated by Kyle Croft and Asher Mones
Co-presented by Visual AIDS

Opening Reception: Thursday, May 31, 6PM
In the last ten years, HIV-specific criminal statutes have been used in over 300 prosecutions in the United States, resulting in prison sentences of up to thirty years. The nature of these laws varies from state to state, but the majority criminalize the act of HIV non-disclosure, placing people living with HIV at risk of prosecution and incarceration for consensual sexual activity if they don’t notify their partner of their HIV status, regardless of condom use, viral load, or the actual risk of transmission. This practice has received little attention despite renewed interest in the histories and legacies of AIDS activism.
Cell Count brings together artists who grapple with the discursive and material histories that underpin HIV criminalization in order to unpack and re-configure the metaphors and assumptions that enable the punishment and incarceration of people living with HIV. Seeking to place HIV criminalization in a broader context, Cell Count suggests that these laws are not unique to the AIDS epidemic but instead echo a long history of medically sanctioned violence and incarceration in the United States. Drawing together 19th century experiments on enslaved women, the medicalization of homosexuality, and the Tuskegee Syphilis Study with the emergence of HIV-specific criminal statutes, Cell Count asks us to consider how medicine has been complicit with systems of surveillance and incarceration.

Barton Lidicé Beneš, Lethal Weapons: Silencer, 1994. Courtesy of the estate of Barton Lidicé Beneš and Pavel Zoubok Gallery, New York.

Cell Count includes work by: Jordan Arseneault, Barton Lidicé Beneš (1942–2012), Brian Carmichael, Chad Clarke, Chloe Dzubilo (1960–2011), Doreen Garner, Camilo Godoy, Frank Green (1957–2013), Shan Kelley, M. Lamar, Charles Long with Christopher Paul Jordan, Alexander McClelland, Laurie Jo Reynolds, Muhjah Shakir, and Chris E. Vargas, as well as performances by Jordan Arseneault with Mikiki and Timothy DuWhite.

Events & Performances

Wednesday June 6, 7PM:
Performances by Timothy DuWhite and Jordan Arseneault with Mikiki

Thursday June 14, 7PM:
Panel discussion about HIV criminalization with activists and scholars

Saturday June 16, 3PM:
Closing tour with artist talks

About La MaMa Galleria

Founded in 1984, La MaMa La Galleria is a nonprofit gallery committed to nurturing artistic experimentation. La Galleria serves its neighborhood as a venue that encourages an active dialogue between the visual arts, new media, performance, curatorial and educational projects. Its focus is to offer programming that reaches beyond the expectations of traditional gallery and institutional exhibition-making, to a diverse and intergenerational audience. And as a non-profit, La Galleria is able to provide artists and curators with unique exhibition opportunities that are largely out of reach in a commercial gallery setting.
Find out more about La MaMa Galleria!


Visual AIDS utilizes art to fight AIDS by provoking dialogue, supporting HIV+ artists, and preserving a legacy, because AIDS is not over.