NYC AIDS Memorial debuts powerful sound installation for World AIDS Day

Posted On Tue, December 1, 2020 By

Posted On Tue, December 1, 2020 By In Art, History, West Village 

Photo: John Moore, Circular Space Photography

The voices of New Yorkers affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic will be heard daily as part of a new program installed in Greenwich Village. In recognition of World AIDS Day on Tuesday, the New York City AIDS Memorial will launch a sound-based installation composed of speeches, poetry, music, and readings of texts related to the history of the epidemic. The hour-long program, titled Hear Me: Voices of the Epidemic, will be broadcast from the memorial nightly at 7 p.m. for the month of December, along with a new lighting installation.

Hear Me includes a recording of a speech by activist Vito Russo, a song composed by Michael Callen, sounds from an ACT UP-led protest led by artist David Wojnarowicz, and a poem by artist Kia LaBeija. In addition to the hour-long installation beginning at 7 p.m., a recording will play each day at 10 a.m. featuring the names of over 2,000 New Yorkers lost to AIDS and read by What Would an HIV Doula Do?, a group made up of people directly affected by the epidemic.

“Since our dedication on World AIDS Day in 2016, it has been the goal of the New York City AIDS Memorial to create a living and breathing tribute to the 100,000 New Yorkers lost to AIDS, and to the activists and caretakers who led the fight to end AIDS,” Dave Harper, the executive director of the NYC AIDS Memorial, said in a press release.

“This installation will connect the power of this place to the voices of the past, allowing visitors to learn and engage within our sacred space. We are thrilled to launch a new project that centers our organizational mission of remembrance during these challenging times while also creating public awareness of the ongoing AIDS epidemic through educational and cultural initiatives.”

The new program is the third exhibition under the NYC AIDS Memorial Arts and Education Initiative, which aims to further understanding of the history of the AIDS epidemic and the ongoing challenges experienced by those with HIV/AIDS. The installation coincides with a new online series by the NYC AIDS Memorial called A Time To Listenwhich features conversations with activists and artists on experiences of AIDS history in New York City and beyond.

Hear Me is free and open to the public, and social distancing protocols can easily be followed at the outdoor installation.

On World AIDS Day in 2016, the city debuted the NYC AIDS Memorial on the corner of West 12th Street and Greenwich Avenue in St. Vincent’s Triangle, located across from the hospital that became known as “ground zero” of the epidemic and had the city’s largest AIDS ward.

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