Author Burk, Tara
Article Title Radical Distribution: AIDS Cultural Activism in New York City, 1986-1992
Full text http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1206331215616095
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Source Space and culture. vol. 18, no. 4 (Nov. 2015), p. 436-449 : ill
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Call number Article
Journal Title Space and culture.
Copy vol. 18, no. 4 (Nov. 2015), p. 436-449 : ill
ISSN 1206-3312
Brief substance Toward its goal of ending the AIDS crisis, ACT UP (the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) used ephemeral media to stage demonstrations. Slogans such as “SILENCE = DEATH” and “ALL PEOPLE WITH AIDS ARE INNOCENT” galvanized collective action and took control of the unjust representation of gay men and other minorities with AIDS. Updating protest tactics for the headline-driven televisuality of late 20th-century American society, ACT UP relied on ephemera as a mode of distribution for activist slogans and images. Ephemeral materials provided activists with a powerful mode of representation that was inexpensive to reproduce. This essay examines the means by which ACT UP and its associated collectives deployed visual ephemera to create a ubiquitous presence in New York City, when AIDS cases there were among the highest in the United States. Against histories of ACT UP that acknowledge the importance of agitprop but neglect to fully account for its status as ephemera, I argue that the ephemeral properties of activist materials are central to the meaning of these cultural artifacts, and meaningful because they enabled the discursive and spatial representations of collectivity that defined and sustained the most active period of ACT UP, from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s
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Full text http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1206331215616095

 
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