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Siegel Stellar
Image

photo by Stanley Stellar

2,117 DAYS OF SILENCE

Nov 18 - Dec 20, 2008

(Text from: Pamela Grossman, The Village Voice, August 15-21, 2007 (as reviewed in Voice Choices))

Paying homage to the 20th anniversary of AIDS-activism group ACT UP, artist Nathaniel Siegel presents some additional numbers. Like: 41 people were known to have AIDS in 1981, when the disease was beginning to make itself apparent; 71,176 had been diagnosed with it, and 41,027 had died in the United States alone, by 1987—the year President Ronald Reagan first mentioned it publicly. There were 2,117 days between the first press mention of AIDS and this acknowledgement by Reagan. And there are now 75 million people worldwide infected and living with HIV and AIDS. Siegel’s installation piece, 2,117 Days of Silence, considers how different that last figure might be if AIDS had been immediately confronted forthrightly—and if “Just say no” were not the Reagan-legacy theme of public-school sex education today. With AIDS-related historical documents from the Reagan years and calendar pages from the 2,117 days, Siegel shows the enormity of that silent period:

“I imagine [people] waking up and looking at one of these calendars in the ’80s and dealing with the impact of AIDS,” he says, “and I imagine Ronald Reagan waking up each day and making the choice to do nothing.” This work reminds us that outspoken engagement is needed to counter silence and denial every day—and that there’s no time to waste. (Grossman)

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