Years Yet Yesterday_INDEX

Five days following the 2004 reelection of President George W. Bush, playwright and activist Larry Kramer delivered his incendiary speech, The Tragedy of Today's Gays, to a politically downtrodden and defeated audience at New York City's Cooper Union hall. He declared: We have lost the war against AIDS. His solution: for gay men and lesbians to unite in action, safety, and speech. Over a decade later, as we emerge from an equally divisive 2016 election, his words simultaneously resonate and sting. 

Years Yet Yesterday is a drawing series and artist book in which language from Kramer’s call-to-action speech, The Tragedy of Today’s Gays, becomes translated into direct-messaging, black and white eye charts to explore the past decade of grayscale queer representation and power (mis)alignments amidst the on-going AIDS pandemic. 

Each drawing is dedicated to a letter in the alphabet (forming an abecedary), and constructed using three words—rewritten hundreds of times to push agendas of immediacy and urgency—that appear in Kramer’s original speech (this abecedary is incomplete at 24 drawings because his speech did not include any words beginning with X or Z). The three words within each panel can be rephrased in any order to invite viewers to question past histories and the future of activism.

This drawing series was inspired by the 10-year anniversary of Kramer’s The Tragedy of Today’s Gays speech, delivered on November 7, 2004 to a packed auditorium at The Great Hall of The Cooper Union in New York City. The last drawing of the series, L—Leader Loses Lover, was completed on November 5, 2014, just two days prior to the anniversary date.

Visual AIDS, November 7, 2014
OUT Magazine
, November 12, 2014
EDGE Media Network, November 20, 2015

For an exhibition at The Center on Halsted Gallery (Chicago), Winter 2015, the hanging order for the drawings was the following:
M—Miraculous Meds Maybe
A—Asshole Axis America
B—Blind Before Better
Q—Questioning Queer Question
G—Goddmaned Grace Gobbledygook
F—Fucking Fucked Future
Y—Years Yet Yesterday
J—Jeopardy Journey July
S—Systems Still Sick
N—Never Neglect Number
D—Denial Days Disappearing
E—Expected Elected Emergencies
I—Infecting Infected Intertwined
T—Two To Tango
K—Knowledge Keeps Killing
L—Leader Loses Lover
O—Obliterates Ourselves Obviously
C—Civil Courage Contaminated
R—Research Requires Response
U—Uninfected Until Unprotected
H—Horror Highest Hope
W—Wrong Way Washington
P—Political Plague Pigshit
V—Victims Voices Victory
(this order is also replicated in the above imagery)