Silence=Death

Avram Finkelstein, a member of the Silence=Death Project, talks about AIDS, ACT-UP, institutional silence, Holocaust imagery, street art, and the making of an iconic political image. The pink triangle, silence=death poster became representative of AIDS activism during a period when literally, a deathly silence was imposed upon the AIDS crisis. Ronald Reagan, then president, simply pretended it didn’t exist. The conflation of the health crisis with gay liberation further complicated the situation politically. Avram talks about the radical possibilities envisioned by the poster, and the ability for repression to reconstitute itself even where you least expect it.







“Silence is death” implies action, action of resistance and action of oppression. On the other hand, institutional democracy establishes an equivalency between silence and death that ensures that we are perpetually, all, silent and dead. Power is segregated and protected from the effects of speech and action. It is deaf, and increasingly alienated from “speech” that is not “spending”. What precedes any ability to act is the necessity to locate oneself in the network and answer the question: what/who am I connected to? What are the limits and boundaries of my silence/death? What is my sphere of action/life? How can we fight the inverse proportionality between the magnitude of the AIDS crisis and the amount Americans give a shit about it?