‘Avram Finkelstein: Dedications’ On View at The New York City AIDS Memorial




Avram Finkelstein, Dedications, 2023; Courtesy of the artist, commissioned by the New York City AIDS Memorial; Photography by Celeste Godoy.

Over the past four decades, Avram Finkelstein has been devoted to articulating political and social justice concerns, with a particular focus on the ongoing HIV/AIDS epidemic. Finkelstein is widely recognized for his early agitprop postering with the Silence=Death Collective and Gran Fury, of which he was a founding member. His more recent endeavors in drawing and sculpture examine the distinctions between the parallel acts of memory and witnessing.

Let’s visit Avram Finkelstein: Dedications at the NYC AIDS Memorial.

Avram Fiinkelstein: Dedications. Images courtesy NYC AIDS Memorial.

In this newly commissioned installation, Finkelstein has designed six translucent panels to form a conceptual “sky” of memory that floats above the “earth” of the New York City AIDS Memorial’s granite pavers and the reflective waters of the fountain below. These panels layer loosely rendered, hand-drawn clouds—Finkelstein’s stylistic approach to documenting his reacquaintance with his own “disobedient body” after a stroke several years ago—and text taken from the 1982 poem “Bashert,” by Irena Klepfisz. The lines read, “These words are dedicated to those who died,” and “These words are dedicated to those who survived.” Seen through one another, these panels constitute a dialogue with the Memorial as a site, its emotional intentionality, and its usage of shadow and light. Dedications is presented in partnership with NYC Parks’ Art in the Parks program.

The artist writes: “AIDS was my first pandemic,” and these recent works are an attempt to come to grips with my second—COVID-19—stated as a skirmish between fact and frailty, corporeality and memory, commerce and survival, promise and cruelty. As a Jewish gay man, the shadow of the Holocaust has provided a framework that connects the inequities which undergird our cultural responses to many forms of social marginalization, as is masterfully articulated in Bashert.”

NYC AIDS Memorial at the intersection of Greenwich Avenue & Seventh Avenue South, NYC

About the Artist ~ Avram Finkelstein is an artist, activist and writer living in Brooklyn, and a founding member of the Silence=Death and Gran Fury collectives. He is featured in the American Artist oral history project at the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art. His book, After Silence: A History of AIDS Through its Images, is available through University of California Press, and was nominated for an International Center of Photography’ 2018 Infinity Award in Critical Writing and Research, and a 30th Annual Lambda Literary Award in LGBT Nonfiction. He has work in the permanent collections of MoMA, the Whitney, the Metropolitan Museum, the New Museum, the Smithsonian, the Brooklyn Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the New York Public Library, and his work has shown at the Whitney Museum, The Shed, the Metropolitan Museum, the New Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, the Hirschhorn Museum, the Cooper Hewitt Museum, Grey Art Gallery, the Migros Museum, the Museum of the City of New York, and the Leslie Lohman Museum. He has had numerous public commissions, and residencies at Pioneer Works and The Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics.

Avram Finkelstein: Dedications will be on view to December 4, 2023 at New York City AIDS Memorial Park at St. Vincent’s Triangle, 76 Greenwich Avenue, NYC.

Jim Hodges, Craig’s closet, 2023, Granite and bronze, 90 x 57 x 28 1/2 inches (228.6 x 144.8 x 72.4 cm)
Installation view: New York City AIDS Memorial Park; Presented by the New York City AIDS Memorial, June 9, 2023-May 31, 2024
© Jim Hodges, Courtesy of the artist and Gladstone Gallery Photography by Daniel Greer

While you’re there, be sure to view Jim Hodges: Craig’s Closet, a continuation of the New York City AIDS Memorial’s public art program, installed on June 9, 2023, and on view to June 9, 2024.