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THE AIDS UNCANNY, or, time for the dead to have a word with the living

PR No. 2.04 "The AIDS Uncanny"
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Today the AIDS epidemic has been largely portrayed in the North American media as a problem of the developing world. Yet while countries like El Salvador, India, the former Soviet Block and the African continent contend with a pandemic on epic proportions, in the US alone, one million people live with HIV. In the desperate years prior to today's anti-retroviral drug therapies, activists in the social movement ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) began their meetings with the mission statement: "A non-partisan group of individuals united in anger to end the AIDS crisis through direct action." Today, what anger incites the 40 million people worldwide living with HIV to direct action? And if no conscious anger exists, can other sentiments - like disappointment, fear, melancholia, grief - fuel collective action? Meanwhile, queer movements in the West seem wholly caught up in the paradigm of same-sex marriage, a position once scorned by queer radicals. Has the receding of AIDS activism from queer communities led to this current conservatism? Has the failure to articulate a politics that transforms all of society (national health care, the recognition of all kinship arrangements and not just marriage) produced a privatized politics trapped in a hopeless deadlock with fundamentalist ideology? THE AIDS UNCANNY series examines AIDS activist strategies of the past. Artists interrogate the record of those actions and practices, listening for some remainder haunting the present, to act as a kernel for a new radicality. Do we wait around for anger, or do we work within our existing affective spaces? This is the art of a broken silence.

For a list of current projects archived on Public Record as part of the THE AIDS UNCANNY series click here.

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