A Container For the Collective Grief and Somber International AIDS Conference

 

Upon landing in Melbourne, after 26 hours of feeling discombobulated in the air with a five year old in tow, I found out about the downed MH17 flight over Ukraine. At first, there were estimates that over 100 of those who died on board the downed plane were headed to the 20th International AIDS Conference being held in Melbourne. Estimates have since been revised downward. Nonetheless the loss of all those on board regardless of where they were headed is of an enormous tragedy that tears to the back of the spine.

 

Whenever these tragic events occurred there is a need for a collective mourning and catharsis.  As I walked across the lovely (though slightly grey) city of Melbourne, I came across this homage to the Conference.  From across the street, it is quite eye-catching and draws you in.

 

AIDS 2014 Melbourne

AIDS 2014 Melbourne

Upon crossing the street, you come to realize that this sign has taken on additional meaning in the last few days.  As I neared the sign, I noticed that flowers were beginning to be dropped throughout its ledge. Flowers to mourn those lost on the downed plane and flowers to mourn those lost throughout the decades from the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

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The sign-something in form and original function was a flat sign in bright red meant to draw attention to an occurring event became a container -a repository- of grief and collective mourning.  Differing tragedies became intertwined. the heart does not differentiate one tragedy from another. A loss is a loss. Many lives taken before their time and who knows what could have been.

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