SILENCE = DEATH: Los Angeles AIDS Activism 1987–2007
Photographs by Chuck Stallard
Curated by Stuart Timmons
June 16 - July 21, 2007
Opening Reception: Saturday, June 16, 7-10pm
Complimentary valet parking

drkrm. gallery
2121 San Fernando Road, Suite3, Los Angeles, CA 90065
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Gallery hours, Tuesday – Saturday, 11am-5pm

Long Beach, CA home of  Governor George Deukmejian  July 1988  Photo by Chuck Stallard.

They stopped the Rose Parade. They shouted down elected officials. They negotiated the building of an AIDS Ward in a public health system that left people with AIDS suffering in hallways due to lack of a dedicated place for them. They were members of ACT UP.

Drkrm. Gallery hosts SILENCE = DEATH: Los Angeles AIDS Activism 1987 – 2007. Commemorating the 20th anniversary of ACT UP/Los Angeles, the exhibition features the work of Chuck Stallard, who documented one of the most dramatic and successful protest groups in recent history. The AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) became a national and world-wide movement, with one of its most effective chapters in Los Angeles.

ACT UP/LA's quite effective strategy was to mix angry street activism with hometown media-savvy.  Officially formed in December 1987, the group was known for its smart graphics and catchy slogans (“He Kills Me” read the caption for a poster of President Ronald Reagan, who failed to act on or mention AIDS in the critical earliest years of the pandemic). ACT UP worked nationally as well as locally, initiating such federal programs as compassionate access to drugs still under FDA review, and demanding universal healthcare as the first step to responding to AIDS. With its core of gay male activists, ACT UP formed progressive coalitions to press for a women’s right to choose, fair labor practices, and a diversion of tax dollars from foreign invasions to domestic healthcare. Silence = Death revives some of the most dramatic moments captured by a photographer never afraid to put his lens in the fray.

Chuck Stallard, a member of ACT UP/LA as well as its photographic chronicler, had access to the calm and the storms of AIDS activism.  Because the group had to fight for the attention of mainstream media, and because many of the actions carried out by ACT UP members were crafted to provoke authorities, Stallard's work benefited not from distance but from proximity. Possessing both the trust of his fellow activists and the fearlessness to step towards charging police instead of away from them, he managed to capture history.

Exhibition curator Stuart Timmons writes about Los Angeles, gay life, and his own imagination.  His biography of gay movement founder Harry Hay was a Book of the Month Club selection, and his recent book, Gay L.A., made the Los Angeles Times best-seller list.  Timmons’ writing has appeared in several anthologies, as well as national and local magazines.  He has worked at several non-profit organizations, including as Executive Director for ONE, the National Gay & Lesbian Archives.

drkrm. gallery is an exhibition space dedicated to fine art photography, cutting edge and alternative photographic processes, and the display and survey of popular cultural images. Regular gallery hours are Tues-Saturday 11am-5pm. All gallery events are free and open to the public.

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