Jill H. Casid, Spirochetes of Contact, 2019, SX-70 Polaroids, wooden support structure conceived in collaboration with and fabricated by Sylvie Rosenthal, 30 x 192 x 12 inches.
Jill H. Casid, Untitled (Throw Out), 2017 – 2022, Video (16:30), paper envelope, projector, Conceived, written, and performed by Jill Casid and realized by Jack Kellogg.
Click the button below for the audio and text of the VISUAL DESCRIPTION for Jill H. Casid’s Spirochetes of Contact and Untitled (Throw Out):
Jill H. Casid (she/they) is Professor of Visual Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A historian, theorist, and practicing artist, Casid’s research participates in critically extending the scope of intersectional crip and queer-feminist interventions in visual studies. Casid’s hybrid research practice combines performative scholarship that pursues theorizing as a creative writing practice with a performance and photo-based art practice dedicated to developing methods for approaching the materializing force of imaging.
Casid’s Untitled (Throw Out) takes its name from the handwritten instruction (“letters: throw out”) left by their great-aunt on an envelope containing the incomplete remnants of an effort to save their mother who had been deported to the Gurs concentration camp. Casid follows its double-sided command to “throw out” as in discard and “throw out” as in to transmit to approach Hart Island and the lives buried there that are rendered disposable in what Casid calls the Necrocene. The film compels us to grapple with how to make crip, queer, trans*, and racialized life livable by holding onto our dead (i.e., melancholy) as fodder for that other sense of “throw out,” that is, to express. Flanking this film is Casid’s installation, Spirochetes of Contact, that takes us to that other New York island, Fire Island (one of the epicenters of the AIDS crisis and Lyme Disease) in the form of the boardwalk as cruising ground where we “pick up” on all its various meanings – sex, ideas, drugs, viruses, conversation. Casid heightens our felt sense of the material volatility of the original Polaroids by exposing them on top of the equally precarious support structure of the wooden boardwalk to engage us in intimate encounter with the images and their fragile supports as vulnerable material sites of and for our desire.
For Chapter 5 of Indisposable: Structures of Support after the ADA, Casid created their film, Untitled (Melancholy as Medium) that conjures with the material fragility of the Polaroid SX-70 to commune with the incalculable but still powerful presence of unredressed loss. In this film, the twin pandemics of HIV/AIDS and Covid-19 are powerfully connected to investigate how race, ability, incarceration, and sexuality continue to mark some lives as more disposable than others and to agitate for melancholy as an activist and artistic medium. Casid centers the twin ideologies of ableism and white supremacy that make both pandemics excessively lethal with bodies piling up in refrigerated morgue trucks and then buried on Hart Island, the largest mass grave in the United States, and “potter’s field,” where for decades New York City has literally disposed of the unclaimed, indigent, and stigmatized ill — such as those who died of AIDS in the early years of the pandemic.