2021 marks 40 years since the advent of the AIDS pandemic, the last major world health crisis before COVID-19. For this occasion, artist and Woodbury Professor, Dr. Dahn Hiuni, has mounted an online retrospective exhibition, covering nearly four decades of his AIDS-related art. The exhibition is curated by Dr. Amy Converse, Chair of the Art History Department at Woodbury University.
Longtime colleagues and friends, Drs. Converse and Hiuni had been searching for an opportunity to collaborate when the looming anniversaries of the first mention of the term AIDS in The New York Times in 1981, and the first World AIDS Day in 1988, made the task at hand apparent. As art historian Douglas Crimp notes in his book AIDS: Cultural Analysis/Cultural Activism, AIDS “does not exist apart from the practices that conceptualize it, represent it, and respond to it.” Dr. Hiuni recognizes this in his work. “Unlike other diseases, such as cancer, infectious diseases throughout history have often been loaded with politics, discrimination, and punitive measures,” he states. “In a time of pandemic such as our own, it is important to reflect upon the art of previous health crises, in order to learn from the experiences of those who survived, and to witness the continuity of society’s view of health and illness.”
The exhibition is also personal. As Dr. Converse observes, “It felt important to produce this exhibition online to allow for the broadest possible access to the work, and also as an obvious response to our current pandemic. In our current year of 2021, Dahn has survived yet another epidemic when he thought for certain he would never survive the first.”
You can view the exhibition through December 16, 2021, at this link.
Last Updated on October 11, 2021.