In the three decades since our founding, Visual AIDS has fought to make space for art and artists that challenge the pervasive idea that some lives are more expendable than others. Over the past seven months, we have felt the urgency of this work as we see artists, activists, and students silenced and punished for calling for an end to Israel’s ongoing, US-backed genocide in Gaza.

As an organization committed to preserving the cultural contributions of the AIDS movement, we have also been moved to see how AIDS activist history has offered inspiration to activists in New York working for Palestinian liberation. From restaging historic demonstrations, printing new issues of “The New York [War] Crimes,” the Red Ribbon-esque ceasefire pin at the Oscars, and a massive memorial quilt unveiled on the steps of the Metropolitan Museum, references and resonances to AIDS activism abound—as do familiar debates about the political value of art and symbolic action.

We find ourselves in a deeply divided art world marked once again by institutional silence. As Visual AIDS comes out of a year of leadership transition, we are reassessing our values and considering how our work can address the shared concerns of the AIDS movement and the struggle for Palestinian liberation—whether it is sharing strategies for cultural activism, examining how HIV and public health crises are enabled by colonialism and state violence, or providing a platform for the voices and legacies of artists living with HIV in Palestine and the Middle East.

In a first step in this direction, we asked writer and curator Ariel Goldberg to reflect on a demonstration organized by Jewish Voice for Peace at Grand Central Station, a direct citation of ACT UP’s 1991 demonstration in the same location. Goldberg considers the central role of images for both organizations, not only as a tactic to interrupt news media, but also as a tool to inspire, mobilize, and share knowledge across generations and movements. Click here to read the essay on the Visual AIDS Journal.