smithsonian

AIDS Anniversary: Thirty is the New Eternity

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The 30th wedding anniversary calls for pearls, various websites say. And yet, we have no weddings really, from the federal point of view. So what does the 30th mean? Is it the beginning of the end? The end of the beginning? The eschaton? For some, AIDS/HIV is one of the mythic horsemen of the apocalypse. The Salvation Army writes of the “three horsemen of the Russian Apocalypse—AIDS” Others write of the “hybrid horseman of the apocalypse: the global AIDS pandemic.” We debate whether an HIV-positive diagnosis—or even an AIDS diagnosis—is the end of the world. And we write of “the virus at the end of the world.” The victories seem somehow pyrrhic.

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Wojnarowicz’s Ant-Covered Jesus: Blasphemy or Religious Art?

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It doesn’t take much to realize the main theme of A Fire in my Belly is death. More specifically, it is the vulnerability, penetrability, and perpetually possible disintegration of the human body. This fleshly mortality became especially real to Wojnarowicz in the still emerging AIDS crisis of the time. Thus, by necessity it is a deeply human and deeply religious artwork. Which does not mean these images are pleasant and easy to look at. No warm and fuzzy pop spirituality this.

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