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Worth A Thousand Words
“Live HIV” at Milwaukee Art Museum Dec. 1-9
About 6,500 Wisconsinites live with HIV or AIDS. And though art doesn’t provide a cure, it can focus attention. To recognize World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, the Milwaukee Art Museum features Taryn Simon’s 2007 photograph of a vial of live HIV virus. Recently given to the museum by philanthropist Joseph Pabst, the gift stipulates the photograph be displayed each year on World AIDS Day for at least five years. The stark image reads like a religious icon. Our eyes have nowhere to wander beyond the small vial in the center of a beige background, forcing a moment of pause and reflection. The feeling sets in: This disease, which has taken millions of lives worldwide, is still very much alive. You can’t help but shudder – it’s that affecting. The image is from Simon’s larger series, “An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar,” which the museum showed in 2011.

→ “Live HIV” (Dec. 1-9). Milwaukee Art Museum. 700 N. Art Museum Dr., 414-224-3200, mam.org.

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