This project was originalled called ‘Am I Blue?’. It is about illness and survival, hope and regret, how one can be both joyful and fearful. It tells of my experience as a HIV+ man and a long term survivor. I hope that this work resonates with other people living with life threatening illnesses and those who have loved them.
In the last few years, I’ve been creating visual images that capture different aspects of being positive. Facing HIV has been a major task of my adult life. These images expose the struggles that might exist alongside well-being and gratitude.
The effects of years of struggle, uncertainty and survival has marked me in many ways creating unexpected symbols and unforeseen reactions. I’ve seen other respond in similar ways. Some of my self portraiture, not only represents myself but also others.
The initial work has broaden to create two bodies of work:
The new body of work will be called “The Materials of Survival” and will use the drugs and other paraphenalia that any HIV+ person needs to interact with in order to live with this disease.
From this day on, everything changed. The chasm between suspicion and confirmation is wide and unexpectedly terrifying. The beginning of an undesired journey.
The daily taking of medication is a reminder of the presence of HIV and your dependence on drugs. How doing something crucial fades with memory. Only the most recent past is remembered.
The journey through several drug regimens of over 20 years repeated enough to become an obsession. The quest to remain healthy can also be obsessional.
Emphasizing the power and importance of these drugs and the complex relationship between affected communities and the powerful pharmaceutical companies.
Visualizes what a handful of pills taken for twenty four years looks like.
Taking blood tests created anticipation and emotional reactions. In the past, these tests often foretold sickness and death. Nowadays, the results are often not so dire.
This keyboard represents the vocabulary of HIV that we have had to learn. This reimagined typewriter includes those acronyms that describes my experience.
The advent of PREP and undetectable viral loads making transmision unlikely, is changing the way that gay men have sex. After 30 years, these two new strategies along with other existing practices have the potential to revolutionize the ways we relate to each other.
The original name of the project “Am I Blue?” will continue to be used to refer to the more autobiographical and personal work (shown below):
“What has been sacrificed and what might have been?” It is a life lived more cautiously and paths not taken. What would life have been like without the loss of friends and community that was irrevocably altered by an epidemic?
A positive test saw our relationship with our bodies become very complicated. Many experienced fear that our bodies were betraying us. We watched for signs. This mistrust was real and continues to this day.
Eat – Mourn, This image, a double exposure, is the coming together of two ideas.The daily ritual of taking medication. The rising out of the memorial stone. Recognizing the good fortune of those still here but the relationship to those who weren’t so blessed. This self-portrait represent not just myself but also others who struggles with illness.
This image uses four different photographic processes. Referencing the process of multiple losses and the steps to acceptance of death. Survival is never simple.
The divide between HIV+ and HIV- gay men has grown. Phrases such as clean, disease free, and UB2 are almost ubiquitous online. What effect does this shaming of the HIV+ have?
Looking at the world through blue colored pill bottles. Like rose-colored glasses, HIV and other illness colors ones interpretation of the world. There is a psychic toil after decades of struggle.
Some of the photographs from this series have been presented in the following shows and forums
- 3 images were selected for the curated online gallery show, HAART in Art (September 2014, Visual AIDS.
- A featured article in RFD Magazine, Issue #158, Summer 2014.
- Lecture for Photo 52, Photographers and Their Images at City College of San Francisco on September 16, 2013
- “Angels of the Grove” and “Eat/Mourn” – Gallery show, Queer THE Now at Los Medanos Art Gallery in November- December 2013.. See the Facebook Event.
- “Am I Blue?”
- “Big Pharm” was selected – New Visions @ Rayko Photo Center – Jan – Feb 2014.
The two images (2nd and 4th in this photo) were part of the Queer THE Now exhibition at the Los Medanos College Art Gallery in Pittsburgh, CA from Nov 14-Dec 14, 2013.
Me posing in from of my photograph, Am I Blue? at the SF Cameraworks show on Jan. 17, 2014.
My work as part of the 75th Anniversary of City College of SF Photo Department at SF Cameraworks.
Review of SF Cameraworks show for CCSF – Am I Blue? was one of the featured images.
Selected by Juried Panel for the National Kinsey Art Show in Bloomington, Indiana
Work as it appeared in Gallery Show –
Kinsey Institute Art 2014 Show. May-July 2013. In the Grunwald Art Gallery, Indiana University.
Show at Rayko Photo Center
New Visions – 81 Bees – Big Pharm
Posing in front of Big Pharm at Rayko Photo Center
81 Bees celebrate our show at Rayko Photo Center
Appearing in the Summer 2014 Issue of RFD Magazine
Chosen for the Queer & Now show at the Lexington Bar – Queer Art Festival – June 2014