Art has the potential to change the way we see the world. The evolution of humanity has often been questioned by scientists and religious experts. A balance is what the planet requires to remain as relevant and peaceful as the population needs to be. Humans, unlike every other living being, have a higher level of intelligence but can also become a savage animal than the ones out in the jungle. A fine line runs between the cognitive skills that distinguish animals and humans. But the one thing that surely plagues these intelligent souls is the fear of being attacked by foreign forces. The xenophobia in people has only risen exponentially over the decades, and the eighties and nineties are a testament to this attitude of humans.
While the realms of science and medicine were researching the impact of the HIV epidemic on the lives of humans, the social circles broke apart to ostracize the persons who were affected by the virus. Art came into play at the cusp of this crucial phase in the lives of millions. The AIDS crises galvanized the artists to channel their emotions onto a canvas of undying significance. Here are some of the most iconic AIDS activist artworks that were seminal in the transition of the epidemic trajectory.
1. General Idea, AIDS, 1987
The history we are diving into is not just about a fight for public health for the right of the people. An article related to AIDS was published in the New York Times in July of 1981, covering several details of a new disease that was projected as a “rapidly fatal form of cancer,” especially affecting the gay community in the City. Sexuality and the epidemic were assigned a bizarre correlation during this period, and it was only the activism that could start a wave of change in this particular scenario. Most early AIDS patients suffered from bigotry, which is not an unfamiliar concept these days, too. As artists crashed into the scene, the perception of people witnessed a sudden transition. However, people went onto discriminate against those with HIV. This artwork communicates a lot for the gay community.
2. The Silence=Death Project, 1986
This was an era that seeped in homophobia, and the battle between pride and prejudice had just begun. But before any of this revolution could bring about drastic changes, the AIDS crisis had made the battle more about life versus death. Dr. Joseph Sonnabend was a part of this activism, and he is considered a pioneer in the attempts to establish an anti-discrimination state with AIDS. The goal of raising awareness and pressurizing the government was also achieved, and this artwork most surely helped.
3. Please Hug Me, 1987
All individuals, regardless of their sexuality, are susceptible to AIDS. This was made clear through activism in the 1980s. Gerald Jampolsky’s I Have AIDS, Please Hug Me is an art that blended in with the culture to fight all stigmas related to the epidemic.