ACT UP and Dyke Action Machine! Conversation

Avram Finkelstein of ACT UP and
Carrie Moyer and Sue Schaffner of Dyke Action Machine!
in Conversation with Sara Reisman

Thursday, February 11, 2016
6 to 8pm

Dyke Action Machine!,  Lesbian Americans: Don't Sell Out , 1998

Dyke Action Machine!, Lesbian Americans: Don't Sell Out, 1998

Thursday, February 11, 2016, the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation hosted a conversation between Avram Finkelstein of ACT UP and Carrie Moyer and Sue Schaffner of Dyke Action Machine!, moderated by the Foundation's Artistic Director Sara Reisman. Both using the language of propaganda, political campaigning, and advertising, ACT UP, formed in 1987 by a diverse, non-partisan group of individuals united in anger and committed to direct action to end the AIDS crisis, and Dyke Action Machine!, a two-person public art project founded in 1991 by artist Carrie Moyer and photographer Sue Schaffner, have had a pronounced visual impact on New York City-based artistic activism over the last three decades. Tackling issues affecting the LGBT community, both groups operated a practice of direct action during a period of massive transition in the wake of AIDS and the gay rights movements.

Avram Finkelstein designed the iconic Silence = Death poster, which promoted political action on the part of the gay community while DAM!'s public art project was conceived as a series of posters expressing the lesbian community's ambivalence towards the gay rights movement's push for same-sex marriage and parenthood, among other hetero-normative lifestyle aspirations. While DAM! and ACT UP employ different kinds of affect to raise visibility of overlooked political identities, both groups engage agitprop methods to communicate their work, speaking truth to power in the public realm.


Avram Finkelstein is an artist and writer living in Brooklyn. Finkelstein is a founding member of the collective responsible for Silence=Death and AIDSGATE, which was recently included in Regarding Warhol: Sixty Artists, Fifty Years at The Metropolitan Museum in New York. He is also a founding member of the art collective, Gran Fury, with whom he collaborated on public art projects for international institutions including The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Venice Biennale, ArtForum, MOCA LA, The New Museum of Contemporary Art, Creative Time, and The Public Art Fund. The collective had its first retrospective at 80 WSE in 2012, and has work in the permanent collections of The Whitney, MoMA, The New Museum and The New York Public Library. His recent workshops and lectures focus on the  "Flash Collective," a new paradigm for rethinking the public sphere, an experiment in political art-making focused on the creation of a one day collective to produce a single art intervention in a public space.

Carrie Moyer is a painter and writer based in Brooklyn, NY. She has shown extensively in the US and Europe since 1994. Moyer has been the subject of two recent museum exhibitions: Carrie Moyer: Pirate Jenny, a traveling exhibition that originated at the Tang Museum in 2013, and Carrie Moyer: Interstellar at the Worcester Museum of Art, Worcester, MA in 2012. Her work has been included in exhibitions at PS1/MoMA, Everson Museum, American University Museum, Weatherspoon Museum, Palm Beach ICA, Cooper Hewitt, Shedhalle (Zurich), and Le Magasin (Grenoble), among others. Moyer’s critical writing has appeared in Art in America, Artforum, The Brooklyn Rail, and Modern Painters. Recent writing projects include catalog essays on Louise Fishman and Nancy Grossman. She is an Associate Professor at Hunter College. Moyer is represented by DC Moore Gallery in New York City. Sirens, a solo show of paintings, opens on February 18 and continues through March 26, 2016.

Sue Schaffner is a photographer and publishes under the alias Girl Ray. Her work includes portraits of featured media personalities for magazines. Her photos have appeared in Men's HealthPeople, Entertainment WeeklyFortuneEsquire, and Wired.  Getty Images and Corbis license her stock photography library internationally. In addition to being an artist consultant in the Creative Capital Foundation Professional Development Program, she is currently developing a camera review website, She works out of her studio in the Gowanus Studio Space in Brooklyn, NY.