By Larry Schulte

The AIDS/ART/WORK conference in New York earlier this summer brought together a distinguished group of professionals from the art world, queer world and AIDS activist/prevention world.

The first session presented an historical overview of AIDS, including art that was made in response to the AIDS crisis. As one who lived in NYC in the ‘80s, the history was not only thoroughly presented, but was also a moving remembrance of those years.

The second session dealt with art and activism in the age of AIDS ranging from militant art to art that expresses grief. And, it covered the early years up to current AIDS art. (Ed. Note: See a photo, The AIDS Quilt, by Mark Phillips in this edition of On The Issues Magazine.)

The third session dealt with collaborations and the futures. How do we effectively continue the fight to prevent AIDS on both a local and a global level?

These sessions were followed by a roundtable discussion. One of the participants, Marilyn Martin, of the Iziko Museums of Cape Town, showed slides of moving contemporary art — a poignant reminder to me that the AIDS crisis still exists as a matter of life and death in many parts of the world. I believe that she said 1,000 people die every day in South Africa as a result of AIDS.

The conference, held on May 30, 2008, was presented by The Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies at the Graduate Center of CUNY (CLAGS), which is carrying a summary of activities on its website, along with the Australian Research Council and Visual AIDS. The Leslie/Lohman Gay Art Foundation was a cosponsor.

This conference, highly informative, reaffirms that the important work of AIDS awareness and prevention, much of which has been a result of AIDS art, must go on.

Larry Schulte is a New York City artist.


The Café