Out On Display #11: Kissing Doesn’t Kill

Furniture, Textiles & Fashion
November 10, 2014


‘KISSING DOESN’T KILL, GREED AND INDIFFERENCE DO’, designed by Gran Fury, published by ACT UP. USA, offset lithograph, 1989. Given by Shaun Cole. Mus. no. E.472-1993

Gran Fury was a collective of artists and designers dedicated to promoting AIDS/HIV awareness. They used a variety of media in their efforts to undermine the complacency and inaction of authorities and companies in combating AIDS.Their inventive and thought-provoking posters intervened in public spaces (ordinarily saturated by commercial media), often appropriating the visual language of advertising. This poster is stylistically reminiscent of a ‘United Colours of Benetton’ advertising campaign at the time and was designed for display on public transport in New York City and San Francisco. Loring McAlpin of Gran Fury has explained:

‘The press, government and the medical establishment were not delivering information or countering stigma; we wanted our activist voice to fill that void. Therefore, we tried to insert our message seamlessly into those spaces that were normally occupied by authority, and we used whatever we could to grab attention.’

The depiction of couples of different races and genders kissing evokes ‘Kiss-Ins’ – large public gatherings of people kissing to demonstrate their belief that all individuals should be granted the same freedoms to publicly express affection for each other.


About the author

Furniture, Textiles & Fashion
November 10, 2014

I am an Assistant Curator working on the development of the new Europe 1600-1800 Galleries. My interests are wide-ranging but subjects I have particularly enjoyed exploring for this project include:...

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