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A Container For the Collective MH17 Grief and Somber International AIDS Conference

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.


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.








6 replies »

  1. Mimi, I was Melbourne Saturday and the sign was an outstanding reminder of this tragic event.
    Together with my partner, we were thinking of you arriving to such heavy news. So sad and altogether a waste, no civilised world should ever have such occurrences.
    May your Wednesday presentation be a powerful one and the conference be successful for yourself and all of the attendees.B

  2. This is beautiful. I thought about you and all the other people who do HIV/AIDS research, when the plane crash became news. I think we should also honour all of the lives which have been saved, because of the researchers who fight poverty/malnutrition/stigma/fight for knowledge/medication.

  3. Knowing you were heading for down under and not knowing the routing you took, I will admit I was a little concerned when I heard of the crash. I was pleased to see you post something soon after!
    It is such a tragedy what we people inflict upon each other. It is nice to see an outpouring of sympathy on signs or landmarks like this.
    Do us proud (as usual) while there and take lots of pictures (as usual)!

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