I miss people I never met. Recently, over drinks with some friends, the conversation turned to our collective grief over losing so much of our artistic heritage to AIDS. We shared our desire to piece together any remaining traces of those who disappeared, before the memories are lost forever.
Not surprisingly, others share this desire. A simple Google search of “artists lost to AIDS” pointed me to The Estate Project, which includes online archives, biographies, testimonials, etc. relative to artists affected by AIDS in the fields of dance, music, film, video, literature, and visual arts. The organization also provides estate planning for artists currently living with the disease.
In the introduction to the Estate Project’s dance archive, David Gere states,
“… this work is an attempt to render the disappearing traces of an era visible, to unearth the remainders—the remains, if you will—of this particularly fraught chapter in American dance.” Though Gere notes that the archive is “woefully incomplete,” it’s comforting for those of us with little firsthand knowledge of the artists working at the height of the AIDS crisis to have a place to begin to better understand just how much we have lost.