How to ACT UP

How to ACT UP

"Activism in art is reignited by the AIDS crisis, in response to conservative governments all around the world. The early eighties witnessed a resurgence of art devoted to progressive politics, the most important since the Vietnam War." -  Art Since 1900 

ACT UP is a direct response to these conservative governments that were indifferent to the AIDS crisis. Moreover, in the face of government silence, this collective of artists saw the urge to make their voice heard for many reasons: first, the public was not aware of the real AIDS situation neither they knew what precautions they should take. Second, not only the number of people getting infected was increasing alarmingly but also the number of deaths. Third, sadly the government was ignoring the issue and later on calling it a "gay plague" as they were blaming gay people for the spread of AIDS. 


As a result, ACT UP form of protest was to create art in a very peculiar way, they decided to appropriate images or phrases and then recreate them by using commercial language in order to mass market the audiences. Such as the image shown on the left.
This style of art is eye-catching for many reasons: first, the letter font used in the art is not only easy to read but also the letters are big. Secondly, the sentence usually has a white background to make it even more eye-catching. Thirdly, wherever the sentence is situated it is also crucial as it is the first thing you see. Lastly, the background image is an imposing image that adds even more meaning to the phrase. 
They used flyers, pamphlets, posters, T-shirts, stickers, billboards, photographs, postcards, art exhibitions, advertisements on bus stops and on buses. Pretty much anything and everything that they could get their hands on. The content varies from provocative, to informative to satirical. For their main goal was to reach as many people as possible so that they can be well informed about what is AIDS, how can you protect yourself (safe sex), support others, and talk about governmental indifference. - How AIDS was branded
I want to point out not only at their way of doing art which is effective and influenced artists such as Barbara Kruger and Guerilla Girs, but also to show how important art can be as a medium, how it can really help with creating awareness, supporting people, raising concerns. Especially nowadays that some countries are having leaders which sadly create divisions instead of unity, racism instead of integration. It is up to us to raise our voice, to support minorities, to spread tolerance, to be kind and open to different mentalities. Personally, I think diversity enriches our lives, therefore, we should be open-minded to new ideas.
I would like to share this quote that resonated with me, I hope it resonates with you too.“If my speech tonight doesn’t scare the shit out of you, we’re in trouble,” he began. “I sometimes think we have a death wish. I think we must want to die. I have never been able to understand why we have sat back and let ourselves literally be knocked off man by man without fighting back. I have heard of denial, but this is more than denial—it is a death wish.” He concluded, “It’s your fault, boys and girls. It’s our fault.” Larry Kramer

More information:

BPM - Beats Per Minute -  I do recommend watching BPM although I have to say it has very graphic content. 

How AIDS was branded

LGBT History

World Health Organization

Pictures From a Battlefield

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