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One of my frequent sources of inspiration is Félix González-Torres, a gay, Cuban-American sculptor and process artist. I feel a certain kinship with him as a gay Cuban man myself, and I’m also really fascinated by his interactive installation pieces like the one pictured below. Visitors to the installation were (and are, when it’s being recreated) encouraged to take a piece of candy with them from it, thereby contributing to its gradual disappearance over time. This particular one is meant to represent González-Torres’s lover, Ross Laycock, who died of AIDS. González-Torres eventually died of AIDS, as well.

I think a lot about the AIDS crisis and its impact on the LGBTQ community, and I get frustrated when queer folks my age dismiss it as something that happened in the past without really thinking about it. It just feels disrespectful to me. It’s so amazing that medical advances have made it possible for an HIV diagnosis not to be a death sentence, but sometimes I wonder if heightened indifference to those who came before us and even to our own health might be added costs of that progress. I wrote an ekphrastic poem based on this installation, in which I worked out some of these thoughts. I had to keep it in a separate document since I couldn’t get the formatting right on WordPress.

Click me to read the poem!

Uh huh honey,

Kyle

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“Untitled” (Portrait of Ross in L.A.), Felix Gonzalez-Torres (1991)

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