The Long Term Survivor Project exhibition opened at San Francisco Camerawork on June 4th, in celebration of annual Pride month and in honor of National HIV / AIDS Long Term Survivor Day, which was June 5th.
SF Camerawork brings together works by Hunter Reynolds, Grahame Perry and portraits from our pal Frank Yamrus' series, A Sense of a Beginning, to address the experiences of HIV survivorship.
Go see if you are SF-based!
"Frank Yamrus' "A Sense of a Beginning" is a series of solemn and stately portraits of long-term HIV survivors. Through this series Yamrus tells the story of survivorship as manifested not only in the lines and physical attributes of his subjects' faces, which bear subtle testimony to the effects of HIV medications, but also as a factual declaration of presence. Each person depicted in the series is alive today thanks to a complex regimen of medication and years of struggle and determination. Long-term survivorship is a story of countless physician appointments, blood draws, continually shifting drug regimes and constant monitoring of T-cells and viral loads, in the midst of untold grief watching friends and loved ones die. Through the peak years of the struggle against AIDS may have faded into recent memory, survivors live on, bearing the impact of AIDS in their everyday lives."
"By 1991... we were on the front lines of war. We volunteered at various AIDS organizations, joined support groups, and attended fundraisers and many funerals. I became a Shanti Project buddy, helping and witnessing young men die, and worked at the Mt. Zion HIV Clinical Research Center with young men who sacrificed their bodies to help find a cure. As I recall our first decade in San Francisco, I cannot remember much that did not gravitate around AIDS. The words and acronyms that were so foreign to me not long before became embedded in my vernacular. Around this time, my photography transitioned to work about loss as it became the language I knew best. Like others, I analogized the pandemic to war and the early images I made romanticized death as a coping mechanism to deal with overwhelming grief....
"After countless physician appointments, blood draws, continually shifting drug regimes and constant monitoring of T-cells and viral loads, after untold days protesting and untold nights watching friends die, these courageous men and women allow us to examine the aftermath. Gone is the romanticized idea of battle and loss. In its place: the stark reality of years of struggle and fight. This series does not attempt to capture the tenor of those times or the great strides that have been made since. It simply documents survivorship - the physical, psychological and emotional turmoil AIDS has caused over the last 30-plus years." Frank Yamrus.
All portraits © Frank Yamrus