“Spectacular Damage” at Gulf Coast Archive puts human face on AIDS crisis

"Joe" - one of the paintings from "Spectacular Damage"

The nude models for Jack Dorlan’s Spectacular Damage show are not people one typically wishes to see naked, and that’s the point. The models, all men living with HIV, carry the lumps and scars of the virus and its treatments with dignity, defiance and a quiet longing that leaps from the canvas.

Painting in a style immediately reminiscent of the late Lucian Freud, Dorlan’s brutally honest brush makes no attempt to beautify the reality of his subject’s lives. As a result the very real, and “spectacular,” beauty of these damaged bodies shines through.

“These paintings examine the contemporary human body as it is affected by HIV treatment,” explains Doran. “Due to the effects of HIV and the medications required to manage the virus, the human body has taken on new characteristics that alter the human form in a way that has never before been seen in the history of mankind. As HIV research and treatments improve, these characteristics will cease to be a common trait among those living with HIV. These bodies are temporary.”

Spectacular Damage is presented by the Gulf Coast Archives and Museum at the GLBT Cultural Center (401 Branard) Sunday, January 8, from 3-5 pm. Admissions is free. Fifty percent of the proceeds from the sale of prints of the collection’s paintings goes to assist the models in paying for HIV treatments and medications.

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WATCH: Do you get the message?

A group out of California called the One Life Initiative has created a new video intended to encourage HIV awareness. The video is titled “Take Action.”

A press release announcing the video says: “Even though the virus continues to propagate, it is practically invisible in the mass medias. We are thus presenting a video that aims to get people talking again. The video titled Take Action has been created to resonate to people at risk, raise awareness on HIV and encourage everybody to act. We believe it is essential to share the message with all those that deem themselves invincible to HIV.”

The press release also informs us that “The One Life initiative, whose website has become a worldwide resource on the fight for HIV prevention, is supported by many communitarian organisms.”

(I wasn’t familiar with the term “communitarian.” So I looked it up. It means “of or relating to social organization in small cooperative partially collectivist communities.”)

Anyway, I watched the video, and I have to say, it left me a little perplexed. Yes, it grabs your attention. But to me, the AIDS awareness message was, at best, very vague. I wouldn’t have had any idea the video was even about AIDS without the words on the screen at the end.

So, watch the video and tell us what you think? Is it effective?

Take Action Video from One Life / Une Vie on Vimeo.

—  admin