The Andy Warhol Museum in Pennsylvania will be covered in projected images of real queer blood for World AIDS Day, to protest the FDA’s discriminatory blood donation ban on men who have sex with men.
Artist Jordan Eagles will create the light installation Illuminations, projecting panels created with the blood of 59 LGBT+ men, most of whom are taking PrEP, onto the Warhol pieces in the museum’s current exhibition.
According to the Andy Warhol Museum, the blood will “address the stigma of HIV, the FDA’s discriminatory ban on blood donation by gay men, and the value of human life”.
Eagles told The Art Newspaper: “With my work I want viewers to experience blood in a way that expresses our common humanity and our ability to save lives.
“I also want viewers to experience the energy of blood and to question more about these key policy issues and health implications at play.”
The World AIDS Day exhibit, on 1 December, will be accompanied by a looping presentation of seven videos from Visual AIDS, a non-profit which uses art to start conversations, support HIV positive artists and raise awareness that HIV/AIDS is not something that has been conquered.
According to Visual AIDS, the films will resist “narratives of resolution or conclusion, considering the continued urgency of HIV/AIDS in the contemporary moment while revisiting resonant cultural histories from the past three decades”.
Allies for Health and Wellbeing, a Pittsburgh medical clinic providing HIV services, will have staff on hand at the exhibition to provide information on HIV, hepatitis, and other STIs.
Both Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren have promised in their LGBT+ rights manifestos that if elected as US president they would remove the blanket ban on blood donation for men who have sex with men.
Buttigieg previously said at a town hall debate on LGBT+ rights: “I remember the moment when I realised that, unlike most initiatives that I spearhead, I can’t lead by example on this one, because my blood’s not welcome in this country. And it’s not based on science; it’s based on prejudice.”
In the UK, current blood donor policy makes it illegal for men who have sex with men to donate blood if they have had sex within three months of donating.
In protest against the ban, an ‘illegal blood bank’ for gay and bisexual men was opened by campaigners at a secret London location this month.
Ethan Spibey, founder of FreedomToDonate which launched the campaign in collaboration with UNILAD, said: “Our position is simple – anyone who can safely donate blood should be able to.”