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A denim jacket with a badge bearing the letters 'silence=death'; warning about the need to be open about AIDS. Colour lithograph.

[between 1990 and 1999]

Available online

About this work




[New York] : [Silence=Death Project], [between 1990 and 1999]

Physical description

1 print : lithograph, printed in black with pink handcolouring ; sheet 50.7 x 40.4 cm

Copyright note

undetermined 199- undetermined 24/07/2008 USA UkLW Transcription from the item


The Silence=Death Project was set up by a group of men who had started meeting a year and half before [ACT UP was started], including Avram Finklestein, Oliver Smith, and Chris Lione. Several of them were graphic designers and they decided that they had to get the message out to people: "Why aren't you doing something?" The Silence=Death logo was developed before ACT UP existed

The pink triangle was established as a pro-gay symbol by activists in the United States during the 1970s. Its precedent lay in World War II, when known homosexuals in Nazi concentration camps were forced to wear inverted pink triangle badges as identifiers, much in the same manner that Jews were forced to wear the yellow Star of David. Wearers of the pink triangle were considered at the bottom of the camp social system and subjected to particularly harsh maltreatment and degradation. Thus, the appropriation of the symbol of the pink triangle, usually turned upright rather than inverted, was a conscious attempt to transform a symbol of humiliation into one of solidarity and resistance. By the outset of the AIDS epidemic, it was well-entrenched as a symbol of gay pride and liberation. [Extract from Encyclopedia of AIDS]


Wellcome Library no. 667034i



  • English


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