General Idea: Imagevirus
Gregg Bordowitz
Published by Afterall Books, 2010

With a conversation between AA Bronson and Gregg Bordowitz

General Idea: Imagevirus, a new book by Gregg Bordowitz for Afterall Books’ One Work series.

Imagevirus started in the mid-1980s, when AA Bronson, Felix Partz and Jorge Zontal, working together as General Idea, created a symbol using the acronym AIDS, boldly arranging the letters in a manner that resembled Robert Indiana’s LOVE logo. This launched a series of paintings, sculptures, videos, posters, exhibitions and ephemera that from 1987 to 1994 used the mechanism of viral transmission to investigate the term AIDS as both word and image.

Emerging out of the 1960s Canadian communal counterculture, an environment populated by experimentations with gender, media and polymorphous perversity, General Idea came together as a three-man outfit of anti-art art-pranksters who worked prolifically and exploited almost every medium, from print and exhibition to broadcast. The group thrilled and confounded, but always delivered an extraordinary display of control over both format and dissemination. Imagevirus is one of their most important works, and the perfect illustration of their way of working.

In the book, Gregg Bordowitz, an artist and a professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, analyses Imagevirus from the perspective of his own involvement with activist art initiatives in New York during the 1980s and 90s. Reconsidering the battles fought over sexuality and representation in those years, he explores how Imagevirus infected urban spaces across the world, offering a new model for artistic production, one strongly suited to ideological struggle.