Artists, Artwork and the AIDS Crisis in the USA with Dr. Alicja Reksc

Artists, Artwork and the AIDS Crisis in the USA with Dr. Alicja Reksc


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The AIDS epidemic began in 1981 and shocked the world. In the apocalyptic Cold War era, a disease that directly targeted marginalized people-- the gay community, drug users, and sex workers--was a bombshell. Some saw the virus as a plague sent by God and used the disease as a political tool to push far-right-wing narratives. American President Ronald Reagan first spoke the word "AIDS" in public only after tens of thousands of Americans had died from the disease in the USA.

In this seminar, we will look at heroic activist artists, many of whom were afflicted with the disease. In their hands, art became a weapon with a sharp blade that immortalized the drama of those strange times. Their work tells of the horror of death in different ways: some pieces are physical representations of loss and prove the enormous power of preserving memory. In contrast, others show the incredible power of activism and solidarity.

We will look at a few American artists’ life and work, such as David Wojnarowicz, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Félix González-Torres. Themselves victims of the fatal virus, we will explore how they used their talent to express their anger and fear. These artists wanted to bear witness to the unjust alienation experienced by all people living with AIDS and also share the horrific reality of living with a disease with no cure.

Led by an expert on contemporary art history, Alicja Reksc, this interactive seminar will explore the activist artwork created during the AIDS crisis. Designed to inform curiosity and future travels, participants will come away with an increased understanding of how the AIDS epidemic influenced artists and how artists, in turn, influenced public opinion.

Alicja Reksc, PhD, is an art historian. Her thesis was partly dedicated to the phenomenon of anxiety present in contemporary American art. Born in Poland and based in Paris, she works as a freelance journalist, art critic, and guide.

This conversation is not suitable for children under age 16

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

Customer Reviews

Based on 3 reviews
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M
M.
Fantastic

The session was thoughtful, informative and on a subject that is important for the world to remember. Alicia knows the subject matter well and gives it the respect that it deserves.

J
J.O.
How Art helps us look at ourselves

Dr. Reksc showed how artists can observe and create art about the lives of others as well as themselves. In this case the focus was on the social, political and personal response to the Aids epidemic. Her talk was at times a sad commentary on how people respond to challenges, but at other points a type of victory through confrontation of the problem. A superb presentation.

J
J.
Comprehensive, thoughtful, and sensitive

Dr. Alicja Reksc did a wonderful job or presenting a comprehensive but not overwhelming introduction to the visual culture connected to the AIDS crisis that was elegantly contextualized within the broader social and especially political landscape in the 1980s and 1990s.

Customer Reviews

Based on 3 reviews
100%
(3)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
M
M.
Fantastic

The session was thoughtful, informative and on a subject that is important for the world to remember. Alicia knows the subject matter well and gives it the respect that it deserves.

J
J.O.
How Art helps us look at ourselves

Dr. Reksc showed how artists can observe and create art about the lives of others as well as themselves. In this case the focus was on the social, political and personal response to the Aids epidemic. Her talk was at times a sad commentary on how people respond to challenges, but at other points a type of victory through confrontation of the problem. A superb presentation.

J
J.
Comprehensive, thoughtful, and sensitive

Dr. Alicja Reksc did a wonderful job or presenting a comprehensive but not overwhelming introduction to the visual culture connected to the AIDS crisis that was elegantly contextualized within the broader social and especially political landscape in the 1980s and 1990s.