Author: Saleta A. I.
AIDS in New York in the 80s is the theme of a new book of Tommaso Speretta called 'Rebel Rebel - AIDS, art and activism in New York, 1979-1989', a complete reconstruction of footage that analyzes in depth the historical facts and collective reactions to an unknown plague, which put the crisis in American society. This book brings a new narrative to the history of art as a means of social change, combining an analysis of the meaning of public art with reflections on the works' political, historical and critical context. Reviewing the radical responses that artists gave to social problems, especially the AIDS crisis, in the conservative political climate of their day makes for an interesting read. As does reading about the history of the art created by Group Material and its protagonists Tim Rollins, Julie Ault, Doug Ashford and later Felix Gonzalez-Torres and especially ‘ACT UP - The AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power'- an association founded with the intention of stopping the AIDS crisis, which made use of the works of art collective Gran Fury.
The decade of explosion of AIDS in New York was shown in the recent HBO television movie The Normal Heart, an unflinching look at the nation's sexual politics as gay activists and their allies in the medical community, who fought to expose the truth about the burgeoning epidemic to a city and nation that was mostly in denial.
You can find out more about these movements in the installation ‘AIDS timeline', inside the exhibition 'Disobedient objects' in the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, that's still running until February 1 2015. It shows artifacts of the past and present that have been used in global protest movements. From the streets to the museum posters, banners, gas masks, signs and gadgets have been taken in a performance that reads the history of the movement through their objects and their social design.
At DAA we love social activism and using pop culture in the fight against AIDS and we plan to take this to the next level, together with many other artists, friends and supporters worldwide. Art with a social conscience is simply the best there is.