Day With(out) Art


In New York City on World AIDS Day 1990, the lights on Manhattan's historic buildings, bridges, monuments and theatre marquees were switched off for 15 minutes, using the streets and legendary skyline of the city as a visual reminder of the impact of AIDS. 

‘Night Without Light’ is just one of the many creative interventions that have taken place on Day Without Art since 1989. Art galleries would close their doors for the day, with workers volunteering at AIDS charities instead. Other art spaces would open as AIDS information centres. Christmas trees were draped in black while slide shows displayed the work of artists who had died from AIDS. Teach-ins, meditations, screenings and activist zaps would disrupt usual art programming and call attention to the crisis using ingenuity and imagination while many mainstream media outlets and government agencies ignored a mounting epidemic. 

As HIV and AIDS treatments improved and lives were extended, curators actively programmed work that championed artists living with HIV and fought against stigma. Day Without Art became Day With(out) Art and continues to this day with an estimated 8,000 events taking place. 

On World AIDS Day 2017 Manchester joins this proud tradition with our own Day With(out) Art programme, supported by Visual AIDS in New York. Manchester organisations including HOMECentral LibraryLGBT Foundation and Bury Art Museum join us in creatively diverting attention to ongoing HIV and AIDS. Drunk At Vogue dedicate their last ever party to the programme. Together with Penthouse Arts we will screen two collections of brand new film work curated by Visual AIDS and Balaclava.Q, looking at contemporary life with HIV for Black Americans, and reflecting on contemporary treatments. Elsewhere artworks will be covered up, new ones revealed, music played, and tributes shared. We will distribute sexual health literature in unexpected places and hear words reflecting on HIV and loss. We will fight stigma and we will not be silent. Join us. 

Phoebe Woodall