Group Material, Aids Timeline

University Art Museum

In AIDS Timeline, 1989, the artists’ collective Group Material helped to clarify what Paula A. Treichler has called elsewhere “an epidemiology of signification.” Here were itemized samplings from the convergent swirls of nomenclature, image management, political ur-texts, and sheer numbers that continue to make a mess of people’s perceptions of the AIDS crisis. About AIDS there can be no dispassionate informants. An artistic attitude, such as Group Material made operative in its installation, can take up accretions of topical data and straighten them out—handily, pointedly, albeit provisionally.

Group members Julie Ault, Doug Ashford, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, and Karen Ramspacher accomplished their mission by way of a tidy curatorial syntax. A thick, black, waist-high band sweeping along the gallery walls was accented by perpendicular date markers for the decade beginning 1979—the year that

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