From very early on in the outbreak of the aids epidemic it was known as a ‘gay plague’, because the gay community was one of the first within well developed countries to catch the virus. Visual representations of aids often featured gay men as victims and this is exemplified in Nicholas Nixon’s body of work ‘People With Aids’.
This work gave aids a body, an image, that showed victims as being weak and defenceless against this disease and some of his subjects, such as the ones below were gay. Nixons portraits show that the issue wasn’t a social one, which could affect anyone, but instead he individualised it and showed these suffering individuals as the face of aids. This led to them being portrayed as ill outcasts, stigmatised for their illness.
These visual representations of the gay man are what Felix Gonzalez-Torres was challenging with his work, mentioned in a previous blogpost.