np: SinFuk, nd. Offset on pink paper. 11 x 8 1⁄2 in. Near fine. Item #5795
This explicit flyer of unknown origin riffs on the intertwined history of AIDS activism and the publicly funded grant-making organization, the National Endowment of the Arts, pastiching Gran Fury’s iconic work of gay propaganda, READ MY LIPS, and substituting the gay couple with an image of a heterosexual blowjob.
Reagan oversaw a refusal to prioritize or acknowledge the AIDS epidemic, which corresponded with burgeoning conservative distaste for the NEA which at the time for the organization’s support of explicitly gay art and artists. “Read My Lips,” superimposed over images of homosexual couples kissing, became a popular and instantly recognizable slogan created by Gran Fury for ACT UP, a grassroots political group.
In 1989, in response to a partially NEA-funded Robert Mapplethorpe exhibit, North Carolina Senator Jesse Helm sponsored a bill (which passed) to bar the NEA from using funds to “promote, disseminate or produce obscene or indecent materials, including but not limited to depictions of sadomasochism, homoeroticism... or individuals engaged in sex acts.”
The pornographic flyer, proclaiming to be NEA funded “without apology,” plays on the culture wars of the 1980s and ‘90s, drawing to the fore the absurd state of arts funding where heterosexuality was endorsed and homosexuality repressed in the face of conservative pushback.