About the Chronicles

The AIDS Chronicles project was launched in 1994 at the height of the AIDS pandemic in the United States. Inspired by ACT-UP placards that punctuated the urban landscape of New York City with declarations like: ‘New York Times AIDS REPORTING IS OUT OF ORDER,’ the AIDS Chronicles was conceived as a document of visual activism that would bring focus to the day-to-day reporting about AIDS and HIV in what is often referred to as the United States’ “newspaper of record” — the New York Times.

Each yearly AIDS Chronicle consists of 365 front pages from the New York Times, collected from December 1 (World AIDS Day) to November 30 of the following year (for instance – the 1994 AIDS Chronicle runs from December 1, 1993 – November 30, 1994). The individual newspaper broadsheets are ‘re-faced’ on each side with 3 layers of acrylic paint to produce textured, blood-red pages that leave visible only images or articles that mention AIDS or HIV; along with the folio line showing the date of publication; and the ‘obituaries’ listing in the newspaper’s index as a kind of momento mori for theĀ AIDS-related deaths that occur daily.

Eschewing the grand narratives and statistical analyses that reduce historical events to charts of numbers and colored lines, the AIDS Chronicles was envisioned as a visual document that would not only isolate articles that mention AIDS or HIV but would also capture the non-verbal modulations of an historical record built over days, months, years and (as it would turn out) decades; a document that would not only inform but also perform a history of AIDS.

Each Chronicle page subverts the newspaper’s usual hierarchy of focus by narrowing the reader’s attention to just one issue – the newspaper’s (lack of) address to the HIV virus and the global AIDS pandemic. Through this quiet militancy, the project directs the public viewer to consider not only what’s been altered on the page but also the corporate and institutional strategy that determines article placement and visibility for all issues reported in the newspaper.