Day With(out) Art 2022
- Contemporary Artists
- Arts in Savannah
On December 1, World AIDS Day, Telfair Museums visitors will have the opportunity to view seven short videos in the Jepson Center’s Neises auditorium. These shorts (total run time: 1 hour) were created by artists living with HIV across the world, including Argentina, South Korea, Colombia, Canada, the United States, and Mexico. Telfair is proud to present this important program, Day With(Out) Art, through its partnership with the New York-based nonprofit Visual AIDS.
Below, we’ve answered some of the questions you might have about the program, its history, and its significance today.
What is Visual AIDS and what is Day With(Out) Art?
The nonprofit Visual AIDS was formed in 1989, and its mission is to use “art to fight AIDS by provoking dialogue, supporting HIV+ artists, and preserving a legacy.” It organized the first Day With(Out) Art on December 1, 1989, the World Health Organization’s second annual World AIDS Day. A group of artists and art professionals in New York called for “mourning and action in response to the AIDS crisis” and invited cultural institutions across the country to participate. Approximately 800 organizations, including museums and galleries, covered up artworks, dimmed their lights, or shuttered their doors. These actions were meant to prompt visitors to consider a world without art and artists given the devastating impact of the disease on the artistic community.
How does the video program fit in?
Ten years later, Visual AIDS considered changing the name of its initiative to “Day with Art” to help promote the many cultural events worldwide aimed at raising awareness to the AIDS pandemic. Instead, they decided to add a parenthesis to the program title, effectively referencing its history while still “highlight[ing] the proactive programming of art projects by artists living with HIV/AIDS, and art about AIDS.” Since 2010, the nonprofit has commissioned and nationally distributed a video program for Day With(out) Art; since 2014, it has done so internationally and made the works available online to share widely. On December 1, Telfair will be one of hundreds of venues to screen the videos on loop during business hours (10am–5pm).
What is the role of art and art institutions in this program?
Visual AIDS was based on the belief that art has a singular ability to draw attention to critical matters by facilitating difficult conversations. Cultural institutions like Telfair can draw attention to the ongoing HIV/AIDS epidemic by impacting additional audiences not reached by traditional public health organizations. By creating opportunities for visitors to come face-to-face with information and narratives that may have remained otherwise abstract, distant, or confusing, cultural organizations raise awareness and humanize topics—like the ongoing AIDS epidemic.
Are HIV and AIDS still an issue? Isn’t there a cure?
More than 1.1 million Americans are currently living with HIV, according to statistics reported by the U.S. government, and 38 million people are affected across the world. Although frequently stigmatized solely as a LGBTQ+ issue, HIV is more than just a sexually transmitted disease. It also spreads through contact with infected blood, and children can be born or become HIV positive through pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding. Proper antiretroviral therapy now enables people with HIV to live long and healthy lives (without fear, for instance, of transmitting the virus to an HIV-negative sexual partner and drastically reducing the chance of a child inheriting it). However, lingering HIV-stigma, homophobia and transphobia, lack of access to HIV prevention, testing, and treatment, inadequate sex education, trends in injection and other drug use, and a lack of awareness that HIV remains a public health crisis are major barriers to preventing additional fatalities.
Is it an ongoing problem in our region?
According to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the South continues to lead the nation as the region most affected by AIDS. Georgia has the highest rates of HIV diagnoses in the South, with Black and Latino men among the most affected—a fact that has been linked to the state’s high rates of incarceration, poverty, and its unequal access to health care and resources.
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