The Estate Project is developing the National Registry of Artists with AIDS, launched on December 1, 2003, as a work-in-progress. The National Registry is simultaneously a memorial to artists lost to AIDS, a tool for researchers and students, and a gateway to some of the most interesting and important cultural expression of the last 20 years.
Eventually, these names will be accompanied by biographical profiles, work lists, bibliographies, works samples and links to estates, archives and other collections where artworks can be accessed. This Web site will also include an interactive tool allowing visitors to add names to the list, submit information on the artists and post comments.
Please note that this Web site is under construction. We appreciate your patience and welcome your comments. Please send responses to email@example.com.
by Patrick Moore
The following is an excerpt from Patrick Moore's book BEYOND SHAME: Reclaiming the Abandoned History of Radical Gay Sex, forthcoming from Beacon Press.
The power of names can be felt in two great public monuments of our timethe National Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt. These monuments function in seemingly different waysone static and hard, resounding with a quiet power, and the other ephemeral and exuberant with emotion. One was created through the vision of the architect Maya Lin, while the other was a loose framework constructed to hold the work of thousands of anonymous participants. Both have at their heart a list of names and the idea that the accumulation of these names bestows importance on the lost lives they represent.
It would certainly be arrogant to think that the process of compiling the following list of names of American artists lost to AIDS could be compared with the act of creating something like the AIDS Memorial Quilt. Still, it does represent a first step toward recognizing the enormity of the impact of AIDS on the American creative community.
There are many problems inherent in compiling such a list and they are reflective of the AIDS crisis. First, and most sadly, there are many names that should be on this list that are not for fear of legal action or creating more discord in an already tragic situation. The following names are drawn from the records of trusted organizations that have carefully vetted the lists in advance. These organizations include Broadway Cares, the Design Industries Foundation for AIDS, Visual AIDS, Visual Aid, the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, and, of course, the Estate Project for Artists with AIDS. In addition, we have utilized the extensive research of the dance scholar David Gere, the list compiled by Patrick Merla for his anthology Boys Like Us,1 lists published by Entertainment Weekly in the 1990s, and a list from Jay Critchley of Provincetown artists lost to AIDS.
Additionally, placement of the names is difficult because artists work in so many different disciplines. Therefore you will find the name of a writer also listed as a visual artist and a director. We also struggled to find the correct placement for such singular creative creatures as Wayland Flowers and Liberace. Although we have focused on American artists, we could not bear to exclude names such as Michel Foucault and Derek Jarman.
This is by no means a comprehensive list but I can say with complete assurance that it is the most complete such list ever assembled. Each year at around the time of World AIDS Day and Day without Art, the Estate Project would receive calls from journalists, curators, and administrators asking for a list of artists lost to AIDS. Given the many other pressing matters at hand, we could only give them a small sampling. I hope that this list will be used as a tool for their projects of remembrance as well as further research into the work of these artists.
In his Ambition and Love in Modern American Art, Jonathan Weinberg utilizes the following quote from Ecclesiasticus: "And some there be which have no memorial; who are perished, as though they had never been, and are become as though they had never been born."2 This list is in honor of those creative people lost to AIDS who have no memorial of their own but influenced American life through their lives as well as their art.
1. Patrick Merla, Boys Like Us: Gay Writers Tell Their Coming Out Stories (New York: Avon, 1996).
2. Jonathan Weinberg, Ambition and Love in Modern American Art (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2001), p. 242.
Patrick Moore was Director of the Estate Project for Artists with AIDS from 1991 to 2000. BEYOND SHAME: Reclaiming the Abandoned History of Radical Gay Sex was commissioned by the Estate Project for Artists with AIDS (a project of the Alliance for the Arts). This commission was made possible through the generous support of the Royal S. Marks Foundation Fund, the Peter Norton Family Foundation, and the Robert D. Farber Foundation. Research assistance for this book and the list of artists lost to AIDS included therein provided by Brennan Gerard.