Up Against The Wall: Art, Activism, and the AIDS Poster
This past weekend, I had the opportunity to go hang out with some friends and we went to the Memorial Art Gallery here in Rochester, NY. This large exhibit features 165 HIV/AIDS-related posters spanning a time from from 1982 to the present.
From the Memorial Art Gallery website, “The posters in the exhibit span from 1982 to the present and show how social, religious, civic, activist, medical, and philanthropic organizations have addressed the complex, controversial, and often contested terrain of the global HIV/AIDS epidemic within the public realm. A variety of audiences, culture norms, and specific behaviors are reflected in the many messages and methods used to share information to prevent HIV/AIDS.”
I was lucky enough to visit this exhibit with my friends, one of whom participated in ACT-UP activism and was able to put a lot of posters into context. I was struck by how the many various countries advertised with different images and messages. It was really cool to see how the messaging has changed from the 80s, through the 90s, and all the way to present. Some of the posters made me giggle, and other ones made me tear up. The MAG did a great job displaying the posters and other items in a way that drew you in. Interspersed throughout the posters, there are facts and quotes from famous folks posted on the walls. There’s an additional small film area that you could sit in and watch several short talks by folks in Rochester who are impacted by HIV/AIDS. I thought it was tasteful and powerful.
Here I’ve posted a bunch of photos I took, but if you are local and you get a chance, you really should go see it yourself. I posted 20-something photos of the over 100 I took. Photos don’t do it justice. It will be at the MAG until early June, so you have plenty of time! If you go see it, or already have, what posters attracted your eye? What did you think? Drop me a comment or an email!