NOT OVER Buttons


NOT OVER buttons designed by A.K. Burns, John Chaich, Joe De Hoyos, and Avram Finkelstein.

In 2011, we honored the 20th year anniversary of the creation of the Red Ribbon by the Visual AIDS Artists Caucus and 30 years of AIDS by commissioning four diverse artists and designers to create buttons stating it's ʻNOT OVERʼ. The buttons were attached to over 10,000 red ribbons and distributed for free to show support and create new conversations about ongoing issues of HIV / AIDS.

In the tradition on the original Ribbon Bees - gatherings of friends and supporters fashioning ribbons and pins to be passed out at local and high profile events - Visual AIDS organizes Ribbon Bee to attach NOT OVER buttons to red ribbons.  These events create comfortable environments to talk about HIV, share news about health, politics and medication, and support each other as a community.

Artists' Statements & Bios:

In creating the artwork for the Visual AIDS’ NOT OVER campaign I revisited General Idea's 'AIDS' logo from the mid-80’s that was an apt update of Robert Indians 'LOVE', during the peak of the AIDS crisis. At the time this placed a visual relationship between ‘LOVE’ and ‘AIDS’ into the cultural psyche, that was much needed as a reminder to the mainstream that they were not outside this crisis. Love is something we can all relate to and AIDS is about how we love each other. Today, while the epidemic is no longer the crisis it once was in the US, AIDS is still not over!  In particular, world wide, it continues to rage at epidemic proportions. Taking heed of the ‘imagevirus’ concept sparked by General Idea’s AIDS project, I am spreading it! In reusing this vocabulary I aim to bring AIDS awareness into the present day. A.K. Burns

A.K. Burns is an interdisciplinary artist who lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. Burns uses sculpture, video, collage and social performances to penetrate the perverse transactions of sexuality, power and language. Burns is a founding member of W.A.G.E. (Working Artists and the Greater Economy), and co-editor of RANDY, an annual trans-feminist arts magazine. Burns has shown and screened works internationally, including the Tate Modern, London; Hessel Museum of Art, NY; Taxter & Spengemann, NY; Horton Gallery, Berlin and Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, CA. She received a BFA from Rhode Island School of Design and an MFA from Bard College, Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts.

As a communications designer, I have always been drawn to the power of a symbol to communicate. Early in the AIDS epidemic, the red ribbon spoke without using words at a time when awareness and compassion felt invisible. Decades later, it's interesting that we are adding the words "Not Over" to reeducate and reengage audiences in the potential of the red ribbon at a time when its presence has become nearly invisible. I chose the brisk neutrality of Helvetica to directly speak without distracting from the ribbon itself. I hope my design engages, and I am honored to be included among these respected artists on this project. – John Chaich

John Chaich has designed a range of multi-arts projects to raise AIDS awareness, from an educational theater project funded with support from Do Something and LifeBeat, to a nationally distributed edutainment zine by and for young adults, to social marketing campaigns recognized by Print magazine and helping design Visual AIDS annual artist edition broadsides.  Most recently, he curated the critically acclaimed exhibition Mixed Messages: A(I)DS, Art, + Words for Visual AIDS at LaMaMa La Galleria. He has presented at national conferences on AIDS and the arts and written on visual responses to HIV/AIDS for Art & Understanding magazine, as well as contributed to BUST magazine and the anthology, Body Outlaws: Rewriting the Rules of Beauty and Body Image. Chaich holds an MFA in Communications Design from Pratt Institute.

Living with HIV / AIDS has forced me to live my life in fragments and pieces. I make the most of my life in the moments I am well enough and able to enjoy it. And when I'm not, I have to sit on the sidelines and wait for another turn. The design of this badge represents my state of being. It is made up of a collection of moments that are strung together to tell a cautionary tale. – Joe De Hoyos

Joe De Hoyos is a collage artist based in Los Angeles. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including Australia, Holland, Italy, San Francisco, Boston and New York.  His work has also been reviewed in Art in America, Village Voice, New York Times, A&U, New York Blade, POZ magazine, and HIVplus. He is an artist member at Visual AIDS.  

The night before my ACT UP affinity group got arrested at George Bush’s family compound in Kennebunkport, the first of thirty days of actions that ended with a march on the White House, I decided we should cast a month-long candle spell to change Bush’s mind about his AIDS policies. We started it that night, and I burned the candles every night until we got to Washington, where I threw half the drippings onto the White House lawn, and mailed the rest to the White House press office.  Soon after that Bush did change his AIDS policies. He also threw up on the Japanese Prime Minister, which I occasionally claim credit for.

This project for Visual AIDS, Spell, is an incantation based on Patti Smith’s reading of Ginsberg’s Footnote to Howl, and is part of a series of studies for a permanent AIDS memorial, The People’s Fountain. Since Visual AIDS has never forgotten the core truth about AIDS, that every action we take has meaning, I was honored to contribute to NOT OVER. – Avram Finkelstein

Avram Finkelstein is an artist and writer living in New York, a founding member of the political collective that produced the Silence=Death image, and a member of the art collective, Gran Fury. Finkelstein has worked on public projects for The Whitney, The New Museum, UNODC, AmFAR and The Public Art Fund. He is a contributing writer for Artwrit, has been featured in ArtForum, The New York Times, and Interview, has shown at The Cooper Hewitt, Exit Art, Sue Scott Gallery and Monya Rowe Gallery, and is in the permanent collection of The New Museum and the MoMA and Smithsonian archives. Finkelstein has spoken about art and the public sphere at Harvard, Fordham, RISD, MassArt, CUNY, SVA and NYU. The last argument I remember having with my father was about whether the American government could be pressured to respond to the AIDS crisis. “It doesn’t matter,” I told him. “There are only two choices: do nothing, and people will  continue to die, or try something, and if it doesn’t work, try something else.” And that is what I did.