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  • Date :
  • 11/29/2005

Red Ribbon History

Visual AIDS, founded in 1988, was one of the first national initiatives to record the impact of the AIDS pandemic on the artistic community. It brought together the arts and AIDS communities through its renowned national projectsDAY WITH (OUT) ART, Night without Light, and The Ribbon Project.

DAY WITH (OUT) ART has evolved since its inception in 1989 to become a daywith art -- a collaborative project by over 6,000 arts communities around the world which demonstrates the power of art to raise awareness of the ongoing AIDS pandemic. For one day -- December 1st/World AIDS Day each year -- it encourages the arts communities to remember those who have died from AIDS related illnesses and brings together diverse audiences in shared commemoration. It gives a showcase to the work of artists living with HIV/AIDS through exhibits, workshops, seminars, lecture programs, film screenings, performances and Web projects.

The Ribbon Project was created in 1991 by the Visual AIDS Artists Caucus, a group of artists who wished to createa visual symbol to demonstrate compassion for people living with AIDS and their caregivers. Inspired by the yellow ribbons honoring American soldiers serving in the Gulf war, the color red was chosen for its, "connection to blood and the idea of passion -- not only anger, but love, like a valentine." First worn publicly byJeremy Irons atthe 1991TonyAwards, the ribbon soon became renowned as an international symbol of AIDS awareness, becoming a politically correct fashion accessory on the lapels of celebrities. While this has caused concern to many activists, who worry that its meaning has become trivialized, as well as denigrated by the proliferation of "kitsch" ribbon objects, the Red Ribbon continues to be a powerful force in the fight to increase public awareness of HIV/AIDS and in the lobbying efforts to increase funding for AIDS services and research.

Today, Visual AIDS continues to initiate ambitious collaborative projects which celebrate the role of the artist as social commentator, activist and catalyst for change. Recent exhibits include Arts' Communities/AIDS Communities (Boston 1996), Not Sacred (New York, 1997), Mapping No Boundaries (New York/New Jersey, 1997) and The Time Capsule (World Wide Web, 1997). The Archive Project provided the majority of images for the innovative digital database, The Virtual Collection, created collaboratively withThe Estate Project for Artists With AIDS. National and international visual arts projects focus on the need for continuing AIDS education and awareness, and draw attention to the ongoing impact of AIDS on the lives of all practicing artists.

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