Early in the 1980s AIDS epidemic, six gay activists created one of the most iconic and lasting images that would come to symbolize a movement: a protest poster of a pink triangle with the words "Silence=Death." The graphic and the slogan still resonate widely today, the latter an anthem for AIDS activism, and are often used-and misused-to brand the entire movement, appearing in a variety of ubiquitous manifestations. Cofounder of the collective Silence=Death and member of the art collective Gran Fury, Avram Finkelstein tells the story of how his work and other protest artworks associated with the early years of the pandemic were created. In his writing about art and AIDS activism, the formation of collectives, and the political process, Finkelstein exposes us to a different side of the traditional HIV/AIDS history told twenty-five years later and offers a creative toolbox for those who want to learn how art and activism save lives.
Avram Finkelstein is a founding member of the Silence=Death and Gran Fury collectives. His work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, the New Museum, and the Smithsonian Archives of American Art.
List of Illustrations Preface Acknowledgments Author's Note Introduction: AIDS 2.0 PART I. SILENCE = DEATH 1. The Immigrant 2. The Political Poster 3. War PART II. GRAN FURY 4. Read My Lips 5. Kissing Doesn't Kill 6. Art Is Not Enough PART III. AFFINITY 7. Men: Use Condoms or Beat It 8. Women Don't Get AIDS, They Just Die from It 9. The Four Questions, Part 1: The Viral Divide 10. The Four Questions, Part 2: Intergenerationality Epilogue: Notstalgia Index