Andrea Bowers’ multi-media installation focuses on the archive that stores the AIDS Quilt – the world’s largest vernacular art project – and the people who maintain it.
Timed to open on World AIDS Day 2007, The Weight of Relevance introduces the work of Andrea Bowers to Canadian audiences with an exhibition that addresses the legacy of AIDS activism. Its focus is the current state of the AIDS Memorial Quilt – the largest piece of folk art in the world – and on the people who maintain and display this monumental cultural artifact. The quilt was made by thousands of people to celebrate and memorialize the lives of those who have died of AIDS-related illnesses. It now weighs over fifty-four tons.
While no cure has yet been found for AIDS and infection numbers worldwide continue to grow exponentially, the demographics of people with HIV/AIDS is changing. The quilt was first conceived to raise awareness for a disease afflicting the young men of San Francisco's gay community. While continuing to affect gay communities throughout the world, the highest percentage of new HIV infections is now occurring in people of color and women. In the face of diminished funding, committed staff (once numbering fifty-two, now just ten) try to find a balance between preserving the quilt and using it as an iconic activist tool.
Bowers is an artist based in Los Angeles whose work investigates the intersection between activism and art. First presented earlier this year at the Secession in Vienna, the exhibition includes a three-channel video combining documentary style interviews with slow moving still-life shots of the quilt in storage. Another video portrays the longest serving seamstress as she works away quietly at the overwhelming and never-ending task of mending the quilt. Also in the exhibition are a series of drawings, books and a light work, which include new works made for The Power Plant.
The Weight of Relevance continues a long history of presenting exhibitions on HIV/AIDS-related art and activism at The Power Plant.