conceptual artist and photographer, educator and healer, did pioneering
work on morphing and aging:
photography tends to be about shifting peoples vision. With my
AIDS virus poster, created in 1991, I wanted to give people a device
that could be an educational tool: This is what the AIDS virus looks
like. I focused on a healthy version of what a T-cell would look like
and contrasted it with an AIDS-infected T-cell. The imagery, which is
color-enhanced, was created with an electron microscope, photographed
in collaboration with Kunio Nagashima, the National Institutes of Health,
the National Cancer Institute and Hitachi. The resulting poster (distributed
by Gay Mens Health Crisis; sponsored by Creative Time, a public
art project organization) was plastered all over SoHo and parts of Chelsea.
It was used around the country in schools and prisons.
In terms of illness, its very empowering to very specifically
visualize what afflicts you. So for me, the photographs were an empowerment
device for people to be able to see exactly whats going on in
their bodies. Instead of using pictures of T-cells for diagnostic purposes,
they were utilized as tools of enlightenment, tools for consciousness.
I hoped that people would take these images, embed them in their minds
and utilize them to help them heal. Visualization is empowerment. You
can take these things into your body in a certain way that can make
a positive impact on your health. I know that these photographs have
been successful in doing that from the feedback Ive received over
the years. People are enlightened by seeing the virus, and instead of
concentrating on that negative image, they can go on to focus on what
healthy T-cells look like. Healthy T-cells - - the keys to your immune
system - - are empowering to look at even if youve got a cold.
I would love to feel that in this modest way, photography, at the very
least, helped prolong a few lives. Even if you impact one person, youve
the Gay Men's Health Crisis website