© Nicholas Nixon, 2022
People with AIDS constitutes one of the most important photographic series in Nicholas Nixon’s career. In 1987, the year in which he and his wife, Bebe Brown, began documenting the lives of 15 people who were suffering from the illness (some of whom were close friends of the couple), AIDS was a greatly feared disease about which little was known. Those who had contracted AIDS were openly stigmatized and their suffering was confined to the private sphere, far from society’s view. Initially conceived as a book, the project, with the permission of those suffering from the disease and their families, took on the objective of creating a legacy detailing their experience with the illness. People with AIDS is, above all else, a testimony that raises awareness about this reality.
With a greater narrative sense than in previous work, the camera approaches the bodies afflicted by the terrible disease and captures the irreducible dignity lodged in the gaze of its protagonists. Time is intensified in these images: on one hand, it is manifested in the deterioration accelerated by the illness, visible through the serial nature of the piece that leads to an inexorable end; on the other hand, in Nixon’s selection of intervals, and in the stillness required by his fixed camera, there something present that seems to evade death.