Twelve Stories

These works are the result of a unique collaboration. Twelve student photographers, twelve student writers, and twelve people living with HIV/AIDS worked together to create this collective portrait exploring the meaning of AIDS in Los Angeles in the year 2007.

In the early days of the AIDS epidemic in the U.S., photography played a powerful role. This was often controversial because photography is as capable of fomenting stigma as of generating activism.

Today the photography of AIDS is much less dramatic. The visual urgency has gone. The question we now face is- How might this medium be reenergized? What role might it play? Each piece inthis exhibition reflects the varying life circumstances and concerns of the HIV-positive subjects who so generously volunteered to share their lives.

South African photographer Gideon Mendel has played a leadership role as director of this project, and as contributor of the series of portraits that accompany the student works. He has spent much of the last thirteen years creating a body of work that documents the HIV/AIDS crisis in sub-Saharan Africa.  Mendel's work in Africa has increasingly involved the interplay of powerful imagery with his subjects' written and spoken words.  These ideas were the springboard for the student works and also for the sound installation.

Our aim here has been to create a new visual tool to fight complacency. With a million people living with HIV/AIDS in the U.S. today and a growing number of infections in minority communities and among women, we need to redouble our efforts to fight HIV/AIDS both in our own backyard and around the world.


Supporting Organizations:

AIDS Project Los Angeles


Black AIDS Institute

Women Alive


Guest book (click here)



Main Portraits by Gideon Mendel   


Project Director: Gideon Mendel

Producers: David Gere and Hanni Rosenfeld

Exhibition Design: Carol Hobson

Web Developer & Manager: Byeong Sam Jeon

Sound Installation: Eddie Peel

Exhibition Installation:  Patrick Polk

Web Designer: Dana Blunk

Printing Services: Chris Bassett, UCLA Department of Art Digital StudioA&I Photographic and Digital Service


The Art + Activism series is a joint program of the UCLA Art|Science Center and the Art|Global Health Center at UCLA, with their respective departments, Design|Media Arts and World Arts and Cultures. Principal funding has been provided by the ArtsForum program of UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture, with additional support from the two centers; the two departments; the Office of InstructionalDevelopment; and UCLA Acting Chancellor Norman Abrams.Special thanks to UCLA AIDS Institute; the Fowler Museum; Simeon DEN who improvised extended vocals; and for program assistance to Coral LOPEZ of Bienester, Ruel NOLLEDO of APLA, Alicia AVALOS of Women Alive, and Vishal PATEL.


Alexandra Kravitz   Andrew Hsieh   Ankita Nigam   Arianna Taboada   Bobby Gordon   Cayla McCrae   Christina Long   Cristina Coleman-Rosa   Dana Blunk   Elizabeth Schwegler   Emily Feldstein

Emma Winder   Hanni Rosenfeld   Gail Romero   Joe Hogan   Kyla Searle   Kylie Alesso   Lauren Ross   Marcelle Little   Margaux Permutt   Muskan Srivastava   Sara Stranovsky   Tida Sripanich   Whitney Pierce