If you happen to be on the corner of Christopher Street and 7th Avenue in the coming weeks, you will likely notice an imposing black billboard standing sentry above Christopher Park. It features two lines of white text at the bottom, reading: "People With AIDS Coalition 1985 Police Harassment 1969 Oscar Wilde 1895 Supreme Court 1986 Harvey Milk 1977 March on Washington 1987 Stonewall Rebellion 1969." The piece came from the mind of the late Cuban-born, New York-based artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres, who died in 1996 from AIDS. The piece is called "Untitled," and given the context of its location (across from the Stonewall Inn), the solemn billboard says a lot with very little.
Public Art Fund has installed Gonzalez-Torres's distinctive work specifically to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, which happened in June 1969, and will be on view throughout Pride Month. This isn't the first go-around for "Untitled," though. Gonzalez-Torres unveiled the first iteration of the billboard work, at the very same place, to commemorate the Stonewall Uprising's then-20th anniversary.
The work, commemorates the long struggle for gay rights, and the devastating toll of the AIDS epidemic, marked the first of several installations that the artist designed for public space. “Felix Gonzalez-Torres stands among the most significant and influential artists of his generation," said Public Art Fund Director & Chief Curator Nicholas Baume in a statement. "Direct public engagement is fundamental to his artistic practice, which expanded the possibilities for creative expression both within and beyond the museum walls."
Gonzalez-Torres once said of the piece: "The letters running across the lower part of the billboard suggest a long caption, capable of sustaining the projection of many images," adding, "The size of the letters is rather small for such a large space. This is not an ad; I don’t expect it to be readable while speeding down Seventh Avenue to the Holland Tunnel. I hope the public will stop for an instant to reflect on the real and abstract relationships of the different dates.”
"Untitled" is on view from June 4th through June 30th.