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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August 26, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 34
HIV30 group replaces vandalized & censored Capitol Hill art project
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HIV30 group replaces vandalized & censored Capitol Hill art project

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

On August 23, representatives from HIV30: Take Action Seattle gathered with a representative from Sound Transit at the Broadway Red Wall to remove a damaged banner that had been installed, and then vandalized, to replace it with a new version.

The original banner - phase one of the three-part public art project 30 Years: A Retrospective - has made a lasting impact on the community since being mounted on the Broadway Red Wall July 14. Just days later, on July 17, a man began to calmly cut and remove the banner. Passersby stopped the man and later repaired the wounded community art project with packing tape.

The banner's woes didn't stop there. Individuals tagged it with messages and colored and scratched over a picture of President Barack Obama. Sound Transit itself then further vandalized the project by slicing out an image of two men who appeared to be engaging in sex, although there was no visible sign of penetration in the image.

The HIV30: Take Action Seattle group met in late July to discuss future protection of the banner and how to approach the Sound Transit censorship issue. The group ultimately decided to reprint the banner to replace the vandalized and tagged original and continue to work with Sound Transit. The censored image has been replaced with one that reads 'IMAGE CENSORED BY SOUND TRANSIT' and has a bar code that, if scanned with a smartphone, takes the viewer to the HIV30 website, where they can view the original image.

In other words, the project - and its next two phases - moves on.

Local print company Proforma BGI Print Solutions donated the printing for the new banner, which was mounted on August 23.

'We're always looking to give back to the community when we can,' said Proforma BGI Print Solutions representative Ernie Lehman. 'Reprinting the banner as a gift to the Capitol Hill community is an excellent way to show our appreciation for all the Seattle area has done for us. Given the circumstances of the original banner's defacing, we couldn't do this any other way.'

Fred Swanson, Gay City Health Project executive director, says 30 Years: A Retrospective 'remains an important project.'

'All of the discussions generated by the banner underscore the need to continue educating the community about the issues faced by people living with HIV,' he said.

HIV30: Take Action Seattle plans to unveil phase two of the project, 30 Years/30 Stories, on September 24, in conjunction with the Seattle AIDS Walk. The 30 Years/30 Stories stage will feature 30 stories written by community members who have been impacted by the HIV/AIDS epidemic interpreted by 30 local artists.

'The project is intended to be a commemoration of the last three decades of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, a celebration of how far we've come in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and a call for people to continue to take action in that fight. I think that will be apparent with the next few phases of the project,' said Swanson.

For more information on HIV30: Take Action Seattle, visit them online at hiv-30.org.

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