The NAMES PROJECT AIDS memorial quilt: visibility, sexuality, mourning
Loevy, Katharine Denise
The artistic medium must be thought of not simply in terms of the materials of art-making, but rather as the condition of the possibility of certain modes of expression, and in this regard one can only identify the medium of a particular artwork by looking at how this work achieves its meaning. In the case of the AIDS Quilt, the medium is neither the fabric nor the quilting, but rather the independently created panel that is then stitched into the AIDS Quilt by the NAMES PROJECT organizers. With the panel and its invitation to independent production as the medium of the artwork, the AIDS Quilt carries with it the promise of unfettered expression. This promise, however, is not actualized in the AIDS Quilt, and perhaps could never have been. Yet rather than signaling the failure of the work, this failure relocates the meaning of the work to the tension between the promise of the medium and the artwork as actualized. It is in precisely this tension that the meaning of the AIDS Quilt is disclosed.