"Medicine Man," a mobile sculpture commissioned by MAKE ART/STOP AIDS Favorite 


Jan 1 2006



"Medicine Man," a mobile sculpture that MAKE ART/STOP AIDS commissioned from San Francisco-based artists Daniel Goldstein and John Kapellas. The piece is constructed of pill bottles that Goldstein and Kapellas, and their partners, saved up from treatment regimens dating as far back as 1985. The artists assembled the bottles in the shape of the Virgin of Guadalupe, with an aureole of syringes arrayed around her body in a halo. You could meditate on Medicine Man for a lifetime, and from it you would learn almost everything you need to know about AIDS, pharmaceutical profits, sexual networks, and our powerful desire to stay alive. When I show people this image, they immediately pick up the spiritual resonances and can see how the artists dissolve the stigma of AIDS in a representation of holiness. But they also see the pain — all those sharp needles — and the privilege, too. That privilege is especially apparent when two lifetime supplies of medication are set side by side with an image by Johannesburg-based photographer David Goldblatt of a South African mother and her two children, who are either too poor to buy medication, or are living with a government too cruel to provide affordable treatment.

Posted by Lauren Hom on