Day With(out) Art 2022 Commemorated at the UMFA for World AIDS Day


(Courtesy Visual AIDS)

By Arlo Marler


HIV and AIDS is known by most. Yet, a heavy stigma still surrounds the condition, despite it not being the death sentence it once was. Even more stigmatized are the people associated stereotypically with HIV/AIDS: gay men and trans women, the latter of which are still underrepresented.

Despite the stereotypes surrounding HIV, anyone of any gender can contract the virus regardless of sexuality. The fact that HIV has been historically called a “gay disease” sheds even more light on how far we have come and how much farther we have to go in terms of de-stigmatizing HIV-positive folks. Day With(out) Art 2022: Being and Belonging sheds light upon an often neglected topic that affects some of the most vulnerable in our communities.

Love, Vulnerability and Personal Loss

Some may not be aware of World AIDS Day, which has been celebrated every year since 1989. For those who are unfamiliar, this day is honored by museums by closing down their galleries or exhibits, turning off their lights or shrouding specific works in cloth to bring attention to and provide information about HIV/AIDS and safer sex. This international day of mourning and action is called Day With(out) Art: Being and Belonging. The UMFA has partnered with Visual AIDS, a New York non-profit, to promote a program of six short films from around the world that explore the stories of young artists living with HIV. 

Each of the short films feature a specific demographic of people or a specific topic. This is something that was pleasantly surprising, as one film highlights people born with HIV/AIDS and another interviews Black women living with HIV/AIDS. Some, like the opening film from Columbia by filmmakers Santiago Lemus and Camilo Acosta Huntertexas, are surreal and uncanny in their experimental form. Many of them also explore what it means to be undetectable and therefore untransmittable through the use of life saving medications that treat HIV/AIDS. This is something a lot of people are not aware of even to this day. In fact, many folks have to be labeled as “high risk” by their doctors in terms of sexual activity in order to receive life-saving medications. Overall, the 50-minute program is well worth watching to gain insight into people living with HIV/AIDS.

Mourning Many Lives Lost and Celebrating Those Who Live  

This year, the UMFA covered Paul Manship’s “The Moods of Time: Morning”  (1938, 1885-1966) in observance of Day With(out) Art to remind people that HIV/AIDS is not over and that there is still a hell of a lot of work to do. While this seems to be an awfully small gesture of solidarity, it still coincides with World AIDS Day tradition and brings awareness to HIV/AIDS and its stigmas. 

When thinking of the AIDS epidemic, it is important to take into consideration the global HIV positive community in all of their facets and humanity. These individuals deserve the same respect and dignity as everyone else. To glimpse briefly into the faces and voices of these people, to see what they go through, watch the program on the UMFA website or visit Visual AIDS to gain a deeper insight into the often neglected HIV-positive community.


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