chapter  3
12 Pages

Voices of AIDS

The HIV virus and the shaping of a cultural memory
ByCecilia Trenter

This chapter discusses the memory of AIDS in order to understand how social memory takes shape according to Jan Assman’s theory of the transition from a communicative memory to an objectivized culture, and how the Face of AIDS film archive can be understood with this process in mind. The article discusses the consequences of the remembrance of HIV/AIDS owing to the redefinition of HIV into a treatable condition. The fact that there is a “before” and an “after” the introduction of antiretroviral therapy is crucial for understanding the representation and memory of HIV/AIDS. In the Face of AIDS film archive, my focus lies on the documentary films Passing on the Torch (2012) and The Longest Journey Is the Journey Within (2015). An additional objective in the following discussion about commemoration and AIDS is to make a comparison between these two films and two influential public voices within the memory process, And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the Aids Epidemic (1987) by American journalist and author Randy Shilts and Don’t Ever Wipe Tears without Gloves (2012–2013) by Swedish author Jonas Gardell.