MICHALS was among the first artists in the early 1980s commissioned
to create photographic work dealing with the AIDS crisis (for ARTFORUM):
I cant help but think that unless youre the most frivolous
of contemporary artists you wouldnt have addressed AIDS in some
way over the last 20 years. Unless youre so oblivious to others
lives, self-indulgent, dedicated only to your career and isolated in
your egomania to become famous, you wouldve had to address the
issue. Anybody with feeling in the art world has contributed in terms
of auctions, in terms of doing work that touches upon the subject.
yet very few photographers or artists working with photographs, especially
big-name people, are doing anything visible or public about it. The
people getting $250,000 for a photograph, I dont see them doing
anything. Im being critical here. The whole world has a responsibility
to respond to it and help raise consciousness about it. Youve
got to be heartless not to, in the heart of a plague.
As a gay person myself, Im somewhat of an anomaly in the sense
that I havent known 60 people whove died. But I did address
the issue on a couple of occasions, not so much in showing the ravages
of AIDS but in trying to deal with the tragic nature of it and how it
affects people. Doing the work is important. But as to its impact, Im
not sure that it alters government spending or that it holds any political
weight with those people who make the decisions about AIDS.
What photography about AIDS has done is to make people who are alone
realize that there are supportive people out there. It reinforces the
network. It gives consolation and support to people in need.
the Friends in Deed website: