In the lead up to the opening of the New York City AIDS MemorialSurface spoke with notable cultural figures who experienced the height of the crisis. Jenny Holzer turned excerpts from those interviews into a new series of artworks projected on the city's buildings.

Amy Sadao
Director, Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania

Commercial galleries, curators, writers, people who love art—they were all bound together, not by the market, not by art history. They were bound together because many of them had lived through the first wave of AIDS in the United States. Sarah Schulman makes this great distinction of AIDS of the past and AIDS now, and so sometimes people see that break in ’96 with the introduction of antiviral drugs. But if I were speaking about it right now, one of the things that inspires me is the thinking of younger writers and artists, addressing what Ted Kerr has talked about as the second silence around HIV and AIDS, and the ways in which thinkers from David Deitcher to Sur Rodney (Sur), and artists like Kia LaBeija and Derek Jackson, are making it contemporary, making it a lived experience. It’s never not in your mind—it’s in everything. For me, it’s intrinsically linked with everything I know about contemporary art. In a lot of situations, when I introduce the work I did at Visual AIDS, there are nods in the room, because people are living with HIV in their communities, in their families, and they know what it means. 

View the full collaboration here: Reflecting on AIDS: Jenny Holzer in Collaboration with Surface

Artwork by Jenny Holzer
©2016 Jenny Holzer, member Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Photos: Dani Vernon