A Place in the City
Place in the City, co-directed by Nate Lavey and Stephen Vider for AIDS at Home: Art and Everyday Activism (Museum of the City of New York, 2017), also featured in film festivals and programs in New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, and Istanbul.
Stephen Vider writes:
A Place in the City was originally filmed for the exhibition, AIDS at Home: Art and Everyday Activism, which I curated at the Museum of the City of New York in 2017A Place in the City was originally filmed for the exhibition, AIDS at Home: Art and Everyday Activism, which I curated at the Museum of the City of New York in 2017. The exhibition tracked the range of ways that New Yorkers mobilized home spaces in response to HIV/AIDS—as spaces of caregiving, community, and new forms of family. Blurring the line between art and archive, the exhibition aimed to bring visitors into the affective world of HIV/AIDS as it played out in private space. A Place in the City was the final work in the exhibition, bringing the key themes of caregiving, housing, and family to the present day. Over several months, Nate Lavey and I met with, interviewed, and filmed Ted Kerr, Wanda Hernandez-Parks, and Kia LaBeija, in their homes and in the neighborhoods where they lived and worked. The film aims to capture not only the intimacy and quiet of home, but also the ways we move, if we are lucky, from home into the world, and back again.
The film and the exhibition both stemmed from my research and thinking for my book, The Queerness of Home (forthcoming fall 2021, University of Chicago Press). Queer history—especially gay male history—has typically been told with a focus on public and commercial spaces: bars, clubs, bathhouses, parks—out of the closets, into the streets. But The Queerness of Home shows that home spaces have played an equally vital role in the creation of LGBTQ identities, communities, and politics—including early gay marriages, gay cookbooks, communes, lesbian architecture, homeless shelters, and caregiving programs. For people living with HIV/AIDS, in the 1980s and 90s, home was often a singular space of refuge, though it could also be a space of profound isolation.
In A Place in the City, we worked to explore how these stories and tensions continue to resonate—to see home itself in new ways, not only for people living with HIV/AIDS but for everyone. Home is not simply about shelter or housing, but the feelings of belonging and connection we build there.
Stephen Vider is Assistant Professor of History and Director of the Public History Initiative at Cornell University. His research examines the social practices and politics of everyday life in the 20th century United States, with a focus on intersections of gender, sexuality, race, and ethnicity. His current book project, The Queerness of Home: Gender, Sexuality, and the Politics of Domesticity After World War II (forthcoming, University of Chicago Press), traces how American conceptions of the home have shaped LGBT relationships and politics from 1945 to the present. His academic writing has appeared in American Quarterly, Gender & History, Transition, American Psychologist, and The Public Historian, as well as several edited volumes.
Nate Lavey is a video journalist and filmmaker. He has worked for National Public Radio, the Jewish Daily Forward, and The New Yorker. Stephen Vider is a social and cultural historian and a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the Museum of the City of New York.