SILENCE=DEATH IS ARGUABLY THE MOST WELL-KNOWN of AIDS awareness and advocacy posters. The striking colors, stark design, and Gill Sans font combined to create one of the most memorable images ever used for AIDs activism. ACT UP’s design is just one of the posters included in the new exhibition, Graphic Intervention: 25 Years of AIDS Awareness Posters, 1985-2010 at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design.
Along with other works donated to MCAD, the exhibit draws upon Jim Lapides’ (owner of the International Poster Gallery) archive of international AIDS Awareness posters. Besides Lapides’s professional credentials, the subject matter is personal: his sister’s best friend died in 1991 after a six-year battle with the disease. In his introductory essay for the exhibit, Lapides calls the posters “a graphic quilt of a different kind,” a way of remembering those who have died.
What is remarkable about the posters is their shared universality, and how well they communicate with people across all different geographies and beliefs.
There are posters here in French, Spanish, Vietnamese—posters that use photography or cartoons, and posters with blocks of text. Some artists choose to convey their message through image only. Every case is provocative and a call to action.
You can view 153 of the posters included in the exhibition at MCAD’s interactive site.
Graphic Intervention: 25 Years of AIDS Awareness Posters 1985-2010 runs at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design from September 13 to December 4, 2010.