'I Had To Find A Way To Make The Body Sacred Again.' Killacky's Films Celebrate Friends Lost To AIDS

Jan 18, 2018

John Killacky is Flynn Center for the Performing Arts' executive director, an artist and a filmmaker. Killacky is also someone who, in the 1990s AIDS pandemic, lost hundreds of friends. This month, a retrospective exhibit featuring eight of his short films - some of which depict how Killacky chose to honor those who died - will be on exhibit at Champlain College Art Gallery in Burlington.

Killacky talked with VPR about the film retrospective titled, Embodied Voices Video Narratives, A retrospective on AIDS, Disability and Vermont Collaborations.

The showing includes three short films about AIDS and three that highlight people who live with disabilities and use mobility devices, like canes and wheelchairs.

Also included are two new films on which Killacky collaborated with local photographer Todd R. Lockwood and local filmmaker Art Bell.

All the films in the retrospective have varied motifs but each centers around the idea of reclaiming the body's sacredness that society deems as missing, either due to illness or disability.

"What I wanted to do as an artist is reclaim the body. Hold it sacred," Killacky said. He said he feels having the exhibition at a college where younger adults might see these films is especially fitting because they did not live through the AIDS pandemic in the 1980s and 1990s.

Killacky said, "It can be a reminder to people about a certain era. Artists were picking up whatever tools to make work in response to this. You didn't have to worry about, 'Is it good? Is it beautiful?' because it was necessary."

FLOW from John R. Killacky and Art Bell/Dreamlike Pictures

A retrospective of John Killacky' s videos, titled Embodied Voices: A retrospective on AIDS, Disability and Vermont Collaborations, will be on view Jan. 19 through Feb. 16, 2018, at the Champlain College Art Gallery. The opening reception with the artist will be Friday, Jan. 26 at 5 p.m.