Felix Gonzalez-Torres

AIDS is one of the central focuses of the life and work of Felix Gonzalez-Torres. The disease claimed his life in 1996, just as it had his partner’s a few years earlier. It is also one of the main issues informing his political activism— which he pursued in particular with the Group Material collective—and later became a key theme in his conceptual art. “Untitled” (7 Days of Bloodworks) seems at first sight to grow out of a practice akin to minimalism. It chronicles the effects of the progression of the virus in the blood of a person living with HIV in the course of a week. “Untitled” (Blood) depicts this blood metaphorically: a curtain made of plastic beads stretched across a room or doorway, its red and white spheres recalling the different types of blood cells. Experiencing this work—at the threshold between abstraction and autobiography, between the intimate and the political—calls for the physical participation of the viewer, who is invited to literally walk through the curtain. This act also constitutes a kind of ceremony of sharing and of empathy, light and heavy, tragic and at the same time tender.