Helms Amendment, 1989

Basel 2016
Blondeau & Cie
94 black-and-white photographs, vinyl wall texts, grey painted wall
On October 14, 1987, the United States Senate voted in favor of the Helms Amendment. The purpose of the law was to allocate government spending for the fiscal year. Included in the legislation was a stipulation that ‘…none of the funds made available under this Act to the Centers for Disease Control shall be used to provide AIDS education, information, or prevention materials and activities that promote or encourage, directly or indirectly, homosexual sexual activities.’ 94 senators voted yea, two voted nay, and four did not vote. December 1, 1999 was ‘A Day Without Art,’ in homage to the victims of AIDS and to protest to lack of government response. On this occasion, Louise Lawler first showed her Helms Amendment installation at Metro Pictures, New York. This work consists of 94 identical blackand-white photographs of a plastic drinking cup, each paired with a supporting senator’s name and state – red for Democrats and blue for Republicans. Color designations for political parties were not standardized until the 2000 presidential election. The quote denying AIDS funding appears six times in the installation as a stand-in for senators voting nay or abstaining.