Tomorrow, December 1, 2012, is the 24th Day without Art, in commemoration of World AIDS Day. For the first eight years of the Day without Art, many museums and galleries would shut their doors to honor and remember the artists who have died of AIDS. In 1997, however, the initiative shifted to a day with art. Visual AIDS, sponsor of the program, says:
the name was retained as a metaphor for the chilling possibility of a future day without art or artists”, we added parentheses to the program title, Day With(out) Art, to highlight the proactive programming of art projects by artists living with HIV/AIDS, and art about AIDS, that were taking place around the world. It had become clear that active interventions within the annual program were far more effective than actions to negate or reduce the programs of cultural centers.
This year, the group is focusing on screenings of United in Anger: A History of Act-Up, a documentary by Jim Hubbard. A list of screenings in 15 cities around the world tomorrow, plus more before and after the actual day, can be found here. The film is produced by Jim Hubbard and Sarah Schulman (who happens to be my first cousin).
The film is described as:
an inspiring documentary about the birth and life of the AIDS activist movement from the perspective of the people in the trenches fighting the epidemic. Utilizing oral histories of members of ACT UP, as well as rare archival footage, the film depicts the efforts of ACT UP as it battles corporate greed, social indifference, and government neglect.
As of 2010, something on the order of 34 million people around the world were living with HIV and AIDS, the largest number being in sub-Saharan Africa.This includes about 2.5 million new cases that year. That is pretty close to the number who have died of AIDS/HIV-related causes around the world since the beginning of the epidemic.
That’s a lot of art (and science and work and family and life) we’ve lost to the virus. I know there are people in my life who deserve remembering. So, go find a screening if you can, or do something else to commemorate the dead and support the living. I’m going to.