New Orleans, LA
United States
Washington Square Park New Orleans AIDS Memorial since 30 November 2008
What does this New Orleans AIDS memorial say to you?
Walking through the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood one day, I came to Washington Square Park, the corner of Dauphine St. and Elysian Fields Ave. At the northern boundary of the park—away from the short palms and ancient oaks and bands of young families and homeless alike—stands a curved steel structure from which the translucent glass faces of 34 men and women emerge. I guessed from a distance that it was an AIDS memorial. I was right.

More specifically, the structure is called The Guardian Wall and was designed in 2008 by glass sculptor Tim Tate. The faces were cast from locals living with HIV/AIDS and those who have since died have had their names added to a collection of engraved granite stones that fan out from the wall, beneath a plaque that includes a quote from Mexican author Laura Esquivel, "When do the dead die? When they are forgotten."

Tate and his design team said they wanted The Guardian Wall to "promote understanding of the human tragedy of the AIDS epidemic." They succeeded in giving the disease a human face, but I still can't decide whether it's also a celebration of those living with HIV/AIDS or just an eerie reminder that there's still no cure.

Photo © Andrew Belonsky Out

5 June 2013
Andrew Belonsky, unknown