Frequently monochromatic, often verging on abstraction, the works in this group suggest distance, emptiness, and mortality. While much of this work relates to the tragedy of the AIDS epidemic, other pieces, such as Andy Warhol's Jackie or Peter Hujar's Candy Darling in the Hospital, indicate previous or related expressions of mourning, absence, and alienation in order to place artists' response to AIDS in a broader context.
A number of works in this section, such as David Tudor's reconstruction of John Cage's score for 4 minutes, 33 seconds, also suggest the emptiness of what might be called a state of "pre-being" that precedes the birth of a new identity. Seen negatively, such works evoke the repressive alienation of the "closet." Seen in a more positive light, they represent a blank slate of unlimited possibility.
Fading Flowers, 1974
Celastic, paint on wood, light bulbs
48 x 48 x 8 in.
Gift of the estate of Ree Morton
J. John Priola
Gelatin Silver Print
20 x 16 in.
Courtesy Frankel Gallery