Grahame Perry
Every AIDS obituary – this is a montage of the many obituaries that were published in the Bay Area Reporter from 1982 to 2005 of those who died of AIDS.  The importance of the B.A.R. obituaries were that many of us would look for friends or acquaintances, or announce the passing of a loved one so that other would know about it. They had notices of the most well known to someone who you knew from the bar you used to drink at. We all read as the epidemic grew around us.Each week’s deaths are placed on top of each other. Visually, different pictures and words may reveal themselves. The increases in mortality over the months and years can be seen by the darkening areas and how difficult it might be to spot any details. Faces merge together leaving an intuitive sense of what the face lie below.In the later years, after the protease revolution in 1996, individual obituaries become more legible. Finally, there were some weeks were no deaths occurred. Yet, into the 21st century, people continue to die from AIDS related illnesses as well as the long term effect the HIV has on aging and it’s related illnesses.I’ve included 2 jpeg images since this is a large work, details are not visible in the jpg image of the whole image. The second image, marked “details”, lets you see what parts of the detailed image would contain.
Artist StatementIn the last few years, I’ve been creating visual images that captures some aspects of being HIV+. Facing HIV has been a major task of my adult life. This series of photographs and graphic images is part of an ongoing, evolving work. I’ve used the drugs, pill bottles, blood vials, obituaries, and test results to build photographs and collages to reflect the unexpected symbols and emotions that being a long term survivor has created. Many of these may mirror what others have felt.The daily ritual of medication reminds one of one’s status and the dependence on these drugs in maintaining wellbeing. Using medication, blood tests, tests tubes and other medical markers suggest the passage of time and emotion caused by these objects. Creating patterns create other reactions that are often counterpoint to the physical objects and their relationship to health and disease.Many of us are fortunate to be able to take advantage of these medications, yet at times, there is resentment to be struggling with a lifelong illness. Grateful to have been spared illness, fears and anticipation still colors ones perception of the past, present and future. Even today, there is stigma and are many unknowns that people with HIV must grapple with. We can feel aggrieved by the psychic toil that has continued to be made upon our lives. While the anxiety, fear and loss of the past decades have decreased significantly, the knowledge of how HIV has transformed and burdened our lives has deepened.The battle against HIV has been and continues to be a major struggle that affects our community. People over 50 years old make up the majority of people in our country who are living with HIV. We can learn from their stories, struggles and the resilience of those who are living among us.