The Sanguinary Vow

11/28/06 - 12/4/06

Amanda Hellman, Class of 2008, Graduate Student in the History of Art

In observance of World AIDS Day, December 1, the exhibition presents a week-long installation focusing the public’s attention on HIV/AIDS and address issues of stigma and social death connected to the disease.

In the installation, red lights shine in two of the museum’s current exhibitions, American Dreams and Creativity and Invention in African Art. In order to address the disparity of AIDS cases in the United States and Africa, only one red light shines in the American art exhibition, while 24 red lights shine in the African art exhibition. Curator Amanda Hellman chooses to use red because it is the representative color of AIDS awareness. The exhibition also features the audio-piece “Improper Fraction,” created with Todd Whatley, a Chicago-based artist. In this audio-piece, derogatory and discriminatory phrases are whispered to reveal the stigmas associated with HIV/AIDS and to highlight that oppression often occurs through the social death that comes from prejudice in society.

About World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day, December 1, was first held in 1988 in order to increase awareness and education about the disease and through this understanding stop the spread of HIV/AIDS. According to the global census, the number of people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide is approximately 40,000,000 and believed to be as high as 46,000,000. While Africa accounts for more than half of that forty million, the numbers in Asia, Europe, and South America are rising drastically. In addition, UNAIDS, a United Nations AIDS intervention program, estimates that 4,100,000 people became infected with HIV in 2005. For more information about AIDS, please visit the following websites:

This installation continues a 15-year tradition of AIDS day projects at WCMA.