02 December 2014

ACT UP (1987)

Photo taken through plexiglass; better photo to come...

White line woodcut and rubber stamp
Image size: 12" x 18" (30.5 x 45.7 cm)
Paper size: 14.5" x 20.5" (37 x 52.4 cm)
Paper: Mawata
In memory of David Hartwell, who died of AIDS two days before ACT UP was born.

This woodcut is part of a series of prints based on the shape of a triangle celebrating various organizations that helped move gay rights forward in the U.S. during the later 20th century.

ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) started on March 24, 1987, at a meeting at the Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center in New York City, when a large group of almost 300 people agreed that things were so dire that it was time to form a group devoted to political action in response to the AIDS crisis. The group was leaderless and basically anarchist with a committee structure loosely overseen by a coordinating committee. Actions and proposals were brought to the coordinating committee and then to the floor for a vote.

From the beginning, many ACT UP members were artists and graphic designers who played to the media, including a group of six men who called themselves the Silence = Death Project. The year before ACT UP, these men wheat pasted SILENCE = DEATH posters featuring a large pink triangle on a black background in the streets. They gave this logo and slogan to ACT UP to use freely. This print is a riff on the SILENCE = DEATH slogan.

Detail view

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