In the 80s, the height of the AIDS epidemic, the HIV virus became the #1 threat to the already marginalized gay community. This evil-incarnate put a sudden halt to the sexual revolution of the 70’s, and with it, gave a new Life-or Death edge to gay activism. Our demands for equality now had a clock ticking in the background, because our loved ones were dropping left and right on this devastating warfront.
Met with huge resistance, partially fueled by a homophobic society, the gay community had to take it upon themselves to spearhead a proactive mission, including prevention and education, creating a vast scientific research network of possible cures and treatments, we pushed the envelope of Aids fundraising, and provided the hands-on daily care for the sick and dying.
We had little scientific knowledge of the virus, and with this came extreme reactions. Those close to the source felt an immense sense of compassion yet it was met with its opposing instinct of fear and self preservation. Our infected loved ones became marginalized and isolated by society. Being gay in Los Angeles, one of the epicenters, I was immersed in this community battle, and needed to find an artistic relationship to this modern-day plague.
What would it look like, if I isolated this Grim Reaper, dressed in ‘His’ biological garb, blood and semen. What would happen if I presented ‘Him’ in a way we see most of our objects of intrigue, behind glass. If I could stand outside the Aids epidemic for a moment and witness it like a natural history exhibit or personal scientific experiment, what would it look like, what would it become.
From these questions came the“Sleeping Beauty”series. I explored the strange lands beyond the looking glass where life is suspended in layers within layers. Similar to a butterfly pinned behind glass, I sealed the virus in resin, stopping time for the moment so the observer could get real close to its mystery and maybe get a sense of hope. Like tarantulas or scorpions cast in resin one might find in a souvenir shop, the suspended drops of blood were safely frozen in time. I could then hold it close and touch it without the fear of death.
The title “Sleeping Beauty” references the world of dreams and hope, possibly a kiss from the ‘Prince’, a cure for AIDS, something we are still wishing for. After decades of research and the careful scrutiny of science, this beast is still doing the dance of a thousand veils. With great perseverance the lives of many have been saved, yet we will never forget the great warriors who spilt their blood for this battle. These pieces serve as reliquaries of a great battle, similar to the skull of a saint or a piece of the cross, safely holding the essence of our Hero's.
“Sleeping Beauty #1” 1988
HIV+ Blood, Resin Paper Weight Bolo Ties, Log Terrarium, Sand & Wood
“Sleeping Beauty #2” 1988
HIV+ Semen, Resin Paper Weight & Bolo Ties, Log Terrarium, Sand and Rock
Sleeping Beauty #3” 1988
HIV+ Blood and Semen, Resin Paper Weights, Log Terrarium, Sand & Rock