Like many activists, photographer Bill Bytsura attended ACT UP meetings in the midst of the AIDS crisis — because he was angry and confused. But he also attended them because he lost Randy, the love of his life.
Bytsura, who lives in New York City, turned to photography to process the grief and anger and pain of survivors and others affected by AIDS.
“One night, sitting at a meeting, I looked around and thought, “If people could just get to know my friends, they’d see what I see: A group of amazing, passionate, funny and brave individuals who are fighting for their lives.” So I picked up my camera and began focusing on my peers and their stories.
Between 1989 and 1998 Bill Bytsura photographed members of the AIDS activist group ACT UP members in New York, Paris and Puerto Rico. He traveled to AIDS conferences in Berlin and Amsterdam, and met with activists in Los Angeles, San Francisco, St. Louis, Atlanta and Miami. He asked them to write one-page account of their experiences living with HIV.
Now he is fundraising to make the portfolio of 45 black and white photographs with personal narratives into a book. You can check it out here.
Bytsura has a little more than a day to go to fully fund his project. He has raised $24,905 toward his goal of $35,500.
If he reaches his goal, Portraits and Stories: 1989-1998 will feature the photographs, accompanying narratives with typos and all, “capturing everything from political aspects of the AIDS crisis to the hope for survival.”
Additionally the book will feature two-page spreads throughout documenting the political funerals, ACT UP demonstrations, the March on Kennebunkport, The Church Ladies for Choice, the Proud Marys, and other figures in the movement for AIDS awareness.
David France, director of the documentary How to Survive a Plague (2012), will write the foreword.