In the early days, it was this looming, dark cloud. No one could talk about AIDS because the stigma was so devastating. There were no treatments, there were no therapies, there was only the risk of being ostracized, being unemployed, and being homeless. People never got tested, never wanted to know their status, and didn’t want to alter their lifestyle. They didn’t want to disclose or discuss. It’s still that way in much of the world. I could make the argument that stigma has killed more than the virus itself. The biggest threat is that people have lost interest in AIDS. If we don’t get our arms around this within the next few years it could get out of control. A lot of people are finding themselves resistant to these drugs now and they have to take a higher dosage, which is far more expensive. If we don’t get on track, it could go back to historical proportions and never be under control.
View the full collaboration here: Reflecting on AIDS: Jenny Holzer in Collaboration with Surface
Artwork by Jenny Holzer
©2016 Jenny Holzer, member Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Photos: Dani Vernon