It’s been six months since the People’s Climate March took over the streets of Manhattan, but the group behind some of the rally’s most iconic artworks is busier than ever.
The slogan “Silence=Death” remains one of the most recognizable images from the art produced during the AIDS crisis in America. Created by the activist art collective Gran Fury, it complemented a movement of creativity that held social change as its core. Now, over 30 years since the term “AIDS” was first recognized, the collective’s retrospective Gran Fury: Read My Lips at NYU captivates this tumultuous time in American history and shows us that, perhaps, we haven’t progressed much.
Walking through galleries filled with reproductions of posters, flyers, takeaways and other ephemera rather than torn and yellowed scraps of archival materials, I spoke with Gran Fury member and artist Marlene McCarty and 80 Washington Square East Gallery assistant director and curator Michael Cohen, who gave me an illuminating walk-through of the exhibition and answered my questions from the history of Gran Fury to its connection with subsequent protest movements such as Occupy Wall Street to the importance of archiving the history of AIDS activism and AIDS losses.
The BBC reports that a source close to Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei says the artist thought he was “‘close to death’ during the more than 80 days he was held in a secret police detention centre.”