Russell Tovey desires you to know who David Robilliard was. He was a queer British poet and visible artist who died of AIDS in 1988 when he was simply 36 years outdated.
“I first realized about David on the ICA in London,” the “American Horror Story” star tells Selection, talking from his London-area residence. “There was a small exhibition there. Then he type of was on my thoughts rather a lot. Then initially of the pandemic, I rediscovered his writing poetry. I used to be so moved as a result of I linked to it straightaway. It was written all by way of the late ‘80s, but it surely resonated with me now. I used to be like, ‘Why will we not know extra about him?’ His artwork was so proudly queer and about love and jealousy and ache and loneliness and what it’s to be homosexual. It was so outwardly queer on the time whenever you simply didn’t do this. He was so proudly queer.”
Tovey tells Robilliard’s story in “Life Is Wonderful,” his new documentary from WePresent, the editorial and digital arts platform of WeTransfer. Tovey is WePresent’s 2023 visitor curator. Earlier this yr, he produced stay readings within the U.Okay. of “Blue,” Derek Jarman’s final characteristic movie earlier than he handed from AIDS-related sickness in 1994 at age 52.
As Tovey explains within the movie, he was nearly a decade away from being a younger man through the top of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
“If I’d been born 10 years earlier, I might need identified David,” Tovey, 42, says. “I might need slept with him, I might need been him. I miss him and I don’t even know him. There are artists that come alongside that really feel like their fingers reached out and take ours. Despite the fact that it might need been written 100 years in the past, Oscar Wilde would say one thing, and also you’re similar to, ‘That resonates with me now who I’m.’ You miss these individuals. That’s the mark of a genius. They’ve the power to connect with somebody who they’ve by no means ever met, who they’d by no means even imagined they’d ever know.”
A scripted characteristic about Robilliard isn’t within the works simply but. “I’m engaged on one thing else, one other queer story,” Tovey says. “I might love to inform the story of Joe Brainard or Larry Stanton hanging out with David Hockney on Fireplace Island and making all these drawings of all these stunning boys that he was hooking up with. However the factor about these tales is that they’re all tragic. All of them finish and also you don’t need them to.”
Tovey hopes “Life Is Wonderful” would be the begin of a Robilliard renaissance. “I really feel like this documentary is giving him life to proceed,” Tovey says. “It’s giving him the power for individuals to go, ‘Who is that this man? I need to learn all of that poetry..’ You may solely purchase his books on eBay proper now. They’re not available. My dream is it is a conduit to discovery.”
Tovey has additionally curated “We Transfer In Circles,” an exhibit at Shoreditch, London that includes items from his personal 100-piece assortment of Robilliard works together with 15 classic AIDS activism T-shirts. “The T-shirts are historic paperwork,” says Tovey, who co-hosts the “Discuss Artwork” podcast with gallerist Robert Diament. “You may truly chart the historical past of activism, through the AIDS pandemic by way of the garments that folks wore by way of the demonstrations, as a result of they’re all dated. They usually’re all situated. Additionally the best way that display screen printing was developed similtaneously this activism was rising, there was type of a very stunning synergy that was in a position to be carried out.”
“Life Is Wonderful” is on the market on WePresent on Thursday.