December 1 is marked annually as World AIDS Day. Today museums and galleries across the world observe Day With(out) Art. As described on the Visual AIDS website,
Day Without Art (DWA) began on December 1st 1989 as the national day of action and mourning in response to the AIDS crisis. … In 1997 we suggested Day Without Art become a Day WITH Art, to recognize and promote increased programming of cultural events that draw attention to the continuing pandemic. Though “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.
You can read more about Day With(out) Art and the Visual AIDS project here.
MOCRA has observed Day With(out) Art most years, sometimes with special works of art (here and here, for instance), or organizing community gatherings (here and here). This year, we do not have any special offerings, although a number of the works of James Rosen, while not specifically concerned with HIV/AIDS, certainly speak compellingly of love, loss, grief, and undying hope.
Today I came across a link to a film called Last Address, by filmmaker Ira Sachs, which “uses images of the exteriors of the houses, apartment buildings, and lofts where [a number of New York City-based artists] were living at the time of their deaths to mark the disappearance of a generation. The film is a remembrance of that loss, as well as an evocation of the continued presence of these artists’ work in our lives and culture.” (Read more about the film here.)
Keith Haring is among those artists. His last major work, Altarpiece: The Life of Christ, was exhibited at MOCRA in 1995. That casting of the altarpiece now resides in the The AIDS Interfaith Chapel at Grace Episcopal Cathedral in San Francisco.
We invite you to join us in calling to mind and honoring those we have lost, those we love who live with the reality of HIV/AIDS, the many millions around the world who languish without access to treatment, and the dedicated researchers, manufacturers, and agencies who are working to find a cure.
— David Brinker, Assistant Director