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A photo of the painting Death by Derek Jarman. It is an abstract painting with a cross inside a circle, and the word Death inscribed in the paint along the bottom.

Daily Helping for May 20th, 2023 – Derek Jarman – Death

I recently visited the Exposed exhibition at the Palais de Tokyo, because I will always go see anything relating to the AIDS epidemic. It will always be heartbreaking and painful, but it is also so important. The AIDS epidemic is one of the most devastating chapters of recent history, and yet it is talked about so little compared to other tragedies. It’s shocking how pervasive the stigma remains around this topic.

I must admit that like most of the exhibitions I visit at the Palais de Tokyo, some of the pieces on display went a bit over my head. But many of them were profoundly moving and poignant, including photo essays on the brutal impact of AIDS on a human body, short films about the demonization of queer sexualities, and a self portrait series that highlighted the social impact of this disease. But the piece that stood out to me the most was Death by Derek Jarman. It’s a brilliant encapsulation of so many emotions, and a painful reminder that AIDS was once a death sentence. Something that an entire generation of young queer people had to face on their own because mainstream society mostly looked the other way. I will never not be angry about this chapter of our history, and I’m grateful for all of the artists who won’t let us forget it.

Suggestions for artists I should check out? Please contact me with your ideas. I hope you enjoyed your daily helping of art!