In the Curatorís
as curator was to review the vast number of works that Visual
AIDS has compiled and from them select a variety from different
artists, which provoked a visual, sensual, and visceral
I have been treating HIV in my role as doctor but have
experienced its affects first hand through family and friends.
Recently, I attended the International AIDS Conference in
Mexico City and even after 25 years, themes of isolation,
depression and the stigma "that gay men brought this
disease upon themselves" still occur so often. That
is why the works of Rob Andersen struck me so deeply. His
Dali-like figures trapped in their seclusion beckon a time
when spirituality and fluidity were depicted in art but
of another time.
In the Cathedrals of Mexico City, I wandered, marveling
at the murals and paintings, which depicted the passion
and the struggle man has with God. In the works of Gregg
Cassin, I see his pain, turmoil, and detachment. These are
the same emotions many HIV positive men experience with
regard to religion. This sense of detachment and dissociation
is also realized in the works of Ronaldo Sanduval.
Pop culture has also influenced homoerotic art. The works
by Carlos Gutierrez-Solana and Alex Aleixo portray men as
sexual beings and play on the influence of their favorite
pop cultural icons, contrasting the traditional Cowboys
and Indians with television and movie personalities. While
other artists utilize comic books for inspiration, particularly
because they represent a form of American Mythology. David
Dashiell's panels depict these superheroes as dominatrix
inspired figures sexualizing the erotic element superheroes
had in influencing many of us as young gay boys. Other artists
celebrate the sexual bond gay men share with each other.
The paintings of Jack Brusca and Dominic Avellino show this
wonderfully, and the photograph taken by Luis Carle lends
a nostalgic eye to the gay life before AIDS, when gay men
were seen as sexually threatening.
The connection with drug culture and the pharmaceutical
industry is also influential in the works of Barton Lidice
Benes and Max Greenberg, who rely heavily on these themes
and contrast the legal, moral and ethical dilemmas gay men
face with regard to these subjects. The world AIDS conference
ended with appeals for further funding along with increased
efforts to put an end to AIDS stigma. AIDS has killed more
than 25 million people, and 33 million are infected with
the virus. It has been estimated that by 2015, billions
of dollars will have been spent in treating men and women
infected with AIDS due to costly antiretroviral medication
alone. The rising number of cases, especially in younger
gay men, leaves me concerned for the future.
As I rode back to the airport, I noticed the hillsides
are blanketed by the colorful roofs of the small meager
homes of the poverty-stricken regions of Mexico City, much
like the favellas in Rio de Janeiro. It struck me as odd
that the inhabitants would even bother to paint their homes
in bright pretty colors, and then it was suddenly apparent.
Leaving this conference after hearing so much information,
I am concerned with how these facts get interpreted by our
community. In light of the growing number of new cases of
HIV especially among younger gay men, I would hope we could
remedy this disconnection and not just ignore it by painting
over it with bright shiny colors.
b i o g r a p h y
Frank Spinelli, M.D., practices medicine in New York City,
where he also makes his home. His primary focus is internal
medicine and HIV.
Dr. Spinelli is a contributing writer for Instinct
Magazine and the Advocate. He appears monthly
on Out Q with Larry Flick on Sirius Radio, CBS News on LOGO,
and is the author of the Advocate Guide to Gay Health
and Wellness. Currently, he is on a national speaking
tour to promote gay health.
month, Visual AIDS invites guest curators,
drawn from both the arts and AIDS communities, to select several
works from the Frank Moore Archive Project.
Founded in 1988 by arts professionals as a response to the
effects of AIDS on the arts community and as a way of organizing
artists, arts institutions, and arts audiences towards direct
action, Visual AIDS has evolved into an arts organization
with a two-pronged mission: 1) Through the Frank Moore Archive
Project, the largest slide library of work by artists living
with HIV and the estates of artists who have died of AIDS,
Visual AIDS historicizes the contributions of visual artists
with HIV while supporting their ability to continue making
art and furthering their professional careers, 2) In collaboration
with museums, galleries, artists, schools, and AIDS service
organizations, Visual AIDS produces exhibitions, publications,
and events utilizing visual art to spread the message “AIDS
IS NOT OVER.”
is now the most frequently visited HIV/AIDS-related site on
the Web, according to the Medical Library Association and
also the most frequently visited disease-specific site on
the Web, according to Hot 100. The Body contains a rich collection
of information on topics ranging from HIV prevention, state-of-the-art
treatment issues, humor and art. An invaluable resource, The
Body is used by clinicians, patients and the general public.
Part of The Body's mission is to enable artistic expression
to reach the Web, and to join art with other resources needed
to help the public comprehend the enormity and devastation
of the AIDS pandemic and to experience its human and spiritual