Artist: Bill Paul
Confronting Bodies: The Christian Coalition; various U.S. politicians
Date of Action: 1991
Specific Location: Florida
Description of Artwork: In February 1991 an instillation of Bill Paul’s work appeared in the art gallery at Valencia Community College in Florida. In this exhibit, Paul wanted to represent the parallels he saw between the politics of AIDS and the genocide of Jews in Nazi Germany. His Valencia exhibit dealt with difficult topics – male nudity, death, man’s inhumanity to man. One piece featured an old suitcase stuffed with phallic shapes, covered in tar and piled to suggest bodies stacked up in the German concentration camps. Another of Paul’s works exhibited was a tribute to a man who had committed suicide, and died alone with no one to claim his ashes. Paul decided to give his remains a home. He put the ashes in an old jar and scattered broken glass beneath them as a reference to kristallnacht, the infamous “night of broken glass,” when Nazi’s smashed synagogue windows and stores in Jewish neighborhoods. Thinking the man might have been thinking about religion before he committed suicide, Paul’s tribute also included a set of photos of a nude Christ figure with a crown of thorns.
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