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A Decade-long AIDS Protest in San Francisco Remembered

Five men who took part in a decade-long AIDS protest in San Francisco appear on a cross made of dollar bills and engulfed by flames. The installation created by artist Javier Rocobado is one of the altars at the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) 2013 exhibition now through November 9th at SOMArts Cultural Center. His work commemorates the ARC/AIDS Vigil – ARC standing for AIDS Related Complex – that took place between 1985 and 1995. As a student at Academy of Art University in the 1980s, Javier remembers walking by the protest on his way to campus. "I thought it was a homeless camp until one day I approached them and they told me it was a protest against the government's lack of action against AIDS," said Javier, 55, who identifies as queer. This year's theme of "Imagining Time, Gathering Memory" prompted the former Academy student to submit his proposal for the AIDS vigil altar. He researched the history of the protest at the GLBT Historical Society's archives for this artwork. “This was the first struggle and fight with the government to get attention. In 1985 you were stigmatized if you had HIV and AIDS; nobody was talking about it," said Javier.
Bay Area Reporter – October 31st

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