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Posted inArt

Five Years When Silence Equaled Death

Before AIDS activists plastered posters reading “Silence = Death” on New York City walls and ACT UP shouted, “Fight Back, Fight AIDS,” the disease had already claimed the lives of thousands of New Yorkers. The first five years of the AIDS epidemic were characterized by a lack of information about the disease that triggered widespread panic and fear. Focusing on that time, from the appearance of AIDS in 1981 to the death of Hollywood icon Rock Hudson in 1985, which forced the disease into public discourse, the New-York Historical Society’s exhibition AIDS in New York: The First Five Years presents an incredibly important record of both the silence surrounding the growing crisis and the bravery of early activists and caretakers.

Posted inArt

We Were Not Making Art, We Were at War

At some point, nearly two hours in, Marlene McCarty, one of the members of the AIDS activist group Gran Fury, an affinity group that was part of ACT-UP, reminded those gathered: “We were not making art.” The event was a panel discussion that took place at Columbia University on November 15, organized by Columbia’s School of the Arts, and was intended to draw on some of the themes present in the exhibition that just opened at the Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA) in Boston, This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s. The panel was comprised of ICA Boston curator Helen Molesworth and four members of the eleven-member collective that was Gran Fury: Avram Finkelstein, Tom Kalin, Marlene McCarty, and Robert Vazquez-Pacheco.

The question that prompted McCarty’s response was one of a handful that arose during the Q&A that followed the presentations by the panel. There was a similar tone to many of the questions that came up, the majority of which were something along the lines of: “How can we do what you did?” In addition to reminding those present that Gran Fury’s intention was never to make art, per se, McCarty added, “We were very brash about the fact that we were making propaganda.”

Posted inNews

ACT UP Returns to Wall Street With Occupy and Others on April 25

On April 25th, and in honor of its 25th anniversary, AIDS activist group ACT UP (The AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), joined by organizations ranging from Occupy Wall Street to Visual AIDS to Housingworks as well as other AIDS activist and queer organizations, will be staging a large scale demonstration on Wall Street reminiscent of its original Wall Street protests of the late 1980s.

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