The AIDS Adagio: Wes Kennedy and Albert Winn exhibit opening tonight connects the work of two photographers and each man's personal experience with AIDS: Wes Kennedy passed away in 1993, but Albert Winn continues to shoot. This is just the second show in the gallery at the brand-new Fulginiti Pavilion for Bioethics and Humanities at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, and it offers an emotional and humanizing look at the AIDS epidemic.
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"I wanted to revisit the role that photography has played in shaping public perception of AIDS," says Simon Zalkind, curator of AIDS Adagio. This public perception -- rooted in the hysterical, misinformed atmosphere of the mid-'80s, after the identification of AIDS -- pinned the epidemic as a "gay" disease. In the literature accompanying the exhibition, Zalkind explains what this looked and felt like to the general public:
Many of the photographs from the early years of the epidemic were widely criticized for the way their subjects - usually white gay men with AIDS - were represented and for the lack of any social or political context from which consider them. Too many of those early pictures simply reiterated what people had already been told or shown about people with AIDS - that it is the almost exclusive concern of gay men, that they are wasted, hollow-eyed, disfigured, and hopelessly resigned to the death that most certainly awaits them.
This collection of work by two photographers who were -- and in Winn's case, still are -- on the frontlines of the epidemic tell a very different story from those archaic images still imprinted on the culture of AIDS. Humanizing, haunting and sometimes even humorous, the photographs are intimate and real. They show bodies of all shapes and sizes, imagery focused on both the tangible and spiritual aspects of life and the medically grim realities of the disease.
Though a diagnosis hasn't meant certain death for almost two decades, AIDS is still ravaging across gender, orientation and geographical lines. "I also wanted to remind people that AIDS is still very much with us," Zalkind says. "It hasn't disappeared. It hasn't been cured. It affects and devastates the lives of millions of people."
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AIDS Adagio: photos Wes Kennedy and Albert Winn opens with a reception from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. tonight at the Fulginiti Pavilion for Bioethics and Humanities at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, 13080 East 19th Avenue in Aurora. The reception and exhibit are free; the show runs through February 13, 2013. Winn and Zalkind will talk about the exhibit at 4 p.m. January 31; that event is also free and open to the public. For more information, visit the gallery's website.