Recently, artists have begun to examine the early years of the AIDS epidemic in New York with a new lens. The Oscar-nominated documentary "How to Survive a Plague" and Jim Hubbard and Sarah Schulman's "United In Anger: A History of ACT UP" promote the efforts of activist groups like ACT UP and TAG (Treatment Action Group) during a time when politicians and the National Institutes of Health were grappling with the onset of the crisis. "This is the worst disaster in history that you're talking about," Larry Kramer once said in an interview with PBS Frontline.
This June, The New York Historical Society will open "AIDS in New York: The First Five Years." The exhibit houses an impressive archive, including clinicians’ notes, diary entries, and newspaper clippings from the '80s and early '90s. The documents, photographs and videos on display give more clarity as to how the city was dealing -- or not dealing -- with the crisis.
Curator Jean S. Ashton refuses to frame the exhibit as a bottled-up piece of history, however. "The trajectory of HIV/AIDS changed paradigms in medicine, society, politics, and culture in ways that are still being felt, and the disease remains with us, affecting some 100,000 New Yorkers and more than one million Americans today," she says in a statement. "This exhibition explores a history that we continue to live."
"AIDS in New York" opens June 7 and run through September 15, 2013 at the New York Historical Society.
See some of the powerful images on display in the slideshow below: