Cover image for AIDS demo graphics
AIDS demo graphics
Crimp, Douglas.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Seattle : Bay Press, 1990.
Physical Description:
141 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 21 cm
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Material Type
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RA644.A25 C75 1990 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, better known by its acronym, ACT UP, is one of the most successfully attention-getting direct-action political groups. Originating in the media and art capital of New York City, ACT UP has benefited greatly from those roots, for many of its activists know very well how to make eye-catching graphics. They lent their talents to designing striking imagery for ACT UP posters and propaganda, such as a close-up of an erect penis under the legend, "Sexism Rears Its Unprotected Head"--an attempt to shock men into using condoms. The grass-roots organization's main goals are thorough AIDS education, public health care for persons with AIDS (PWAs) or HIV infection, guarantees of the civil rights of PWAs and the HIV-infected, and speeded-up research trials of promising treatments for AIDS and AIDS-related conditions. They've zapped such perceived enemies as New York Mayor Koch and, right in St. Patrick's Cathedral during Mass, John Cardinal O'Connor. This is both a chronicle of ACT UP's activities and a mounting of its agitprop art. Entirely partisan, very interesting, and a vital documentary addition to AIDS literature. --Ray Olson

Publisher's Weekly Review

In what the authors call a ``do-it-yourself manual, showing how to make propaganda work in the fight against AIDS,'' they depict a history of demonstrations, sit-ins and similar steps taken by ACT UP and other groups. The volume is illustrated with photos of the protests as well as graphics used in conjunction with them, such as a poster featuring a penis and the words: ``Sexism Rears Its Unprotected Head/Men: Use Condoms or Beat It'' (according to Bay Press, Arcata Graphics, the book's original printer, reneged on its contract with Bay, citing ``sensitive'' material). One typical entry, recounting ACT UP's civil disobedience at FDA headquarters, is accompanied by a placard saying, ``Time isn't the only thing the FDA is killing.'' Another describes the group Gran Fury's ``same-sex kiss-in,'' publicized with two posters: one a WW II photo of kissing sailors, the other showing a lesbian couple from a 1920s stage play. Slogans and images outnumber substantiated arguments about appropriate approaches to take regarding AIDS, and this book will best suit those already convinced of the efficacy of public and publicity-conscious protest as opposed to other forms of action. The authors are ACT UP activists; Crimp is a freelance art critic and Rolston is an architect. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

These books demonstrate how two different activist groups use an expanded concept of art to effect social change. Fifth in the Dia Art Foundation's ``Discussions in Contemporary Culture'' series, Democracy began as a series of events by the artists' collaborative Group Material during 1987-89. It deals with the relationship of democracy to controversial issues of education, cultural activism, elections, feminism, and AIDS. (A forthcoming companion volume will address housing, homelessness, and urban planning.) Rather than reach a conclusion, this documentation of a series of ``Town Meetings'' establishes a provocative dialog among such diverse contributors as Erma Bombeck, William Olander, and Noam Chomsky. The AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP), a ``diverse, nonpartisan group united in anger and committed to direct action to end the AIDS crisis'' with autonomous chapters in cities throughout the world, employs civil disobedience to pressure for Federal Drug Administration (FDA) drug approvals, to criticize inactive politicians, and to educate the public. The design of their best-known graphic, ``Silence=Death'' beneath an inverted pink triangle, made the powerful analogy between AIDS and Nazi crimes, but actually preceded the group's founding in New York in 1987. AIDS Demo Graphics documents how graphics by controversial artists including Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, and the AIDS activist artist collective Gran Fury have been used by the New York chapter of ACT UP to encourage other groups to appropriate them and develop their own propaganda campaign in the war against AIDS. The interdisciplinary approach of both these books makes them important additions for all art, political science, and social science collections.-- James E. Van Buskirk, Acad . of Art Coll. Lib., San Francisco (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.