Harsh Remembrance is a poster series in response to government PSAs during the United States HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. Each of the five posters in the series are accompanied by a layer of augmented reality. Download the Artivive App to see the posters in motion.
In 1993, art collective and HIV/AIDS activist group Gran Fury created the poster campaign “The Four Questions”. These questions were: Do you resent people with AIDS? Do you trust HIV-negatives? Have you given up hope for a cure? When was the last time you cried? The campaign forced an intimacy with audiences who engaged with it. The first poster in the Harsh Remembrance series adds a fifth question: Do you remember?
HIV/AIDS research has led to groundbreaking medications and treatment for those who are positive. Namely PrEP as a strategy for prevention, and HIV antivirals. It’s no longer the “death sentence” it was seen as in the 1980s. This poster informs viewers that 1.1 million Americans are living with HIV at this exact moment, and 14% of those people don’t know they are positive.
Government HIV/AIDS campaigns lacked specificity and voice regarding the majority of those impacted. 70% of those who are positive are gay or bisexual people. Poster three spotlights voices within the queer community of the 1980s. Keith Haring, Dorian Corey, and Vito Russo speak on their experiences living with AIDS during that time.
Displayed on the floor, this poster serves as a call to action. With phrases like It’s not a death sentence, and Research is never a waste of time, and similar to the previous posters, this graphic is aimed at reducing stigma for those with a positive status.
The colors pink and blue used throughout Harsh Remembrance were taken from colors found in 1980s queer activist messaging, while black and white were adopted from government and conservative HIV/AIDS imagery. Green and yellow were added to extend the palette, and give it a refreshing, bright feel that differs from the 80s campaigns.
A key design element used throughout the series is dazzle camouflage. Dazzle camouflage was created during World War One to decorate military war ships. The thought was that the brash and confusing geometric patterns would throw off the perspective and aim of enemy war ships; it was designed to obscure the ships rather than conceal them. This graphic has been extracted for use as a metaphoric tool throughout the series. It is used to reflect how the government and other conservative activist groups did not completely conceal queer identities, rather obscured public perceptions of those individuals mainly affected by the epidemic, and information about how the virus could be contracted.
Neue Haas Grotesk, a Neo-grotesque sans-serif, is used to mimic the effect of the condensed sans-serif used on government HIV/AIDS campaigns. Crayonette, an ornamental italic serif typeface accompanies Neue Haas Grotesk on the posters. This choice stems from LGBTQ+ campaigns, as it has a DIY/letraset quality to it. Letraset was a company that sold dry rub transfer type. There is visual battle that plays out between the two typefaces when juxtaposed.