Silence=Death Project

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A pink triangle against a black backdrop with the words 'Silence=Death' representing an advertisement for The Silence = Death Project used by permission by ACT-UP, The AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power. Colour lithograph, 1987.

The Silence=Death Project, most known for their iconic political poster, was the work of a six-person collective in New York City: Avram Finkelstein, Brian Howard, Oliver Johnston, Charles Kreloff, Chris Lione, and Jorge Soccarás.[1]


Finkelstein started the group in 1985 as a consciousness-raising group,[2] but the content of their discussions at the height of the AIDS crisis was primarily political. In 1987, the group decided to create a poster to be wheatpasted around New York City. Rejecting any photographic image as necessarily exclusionary, the group decided to use more abstract language in an attempt to reach multiple audiences.[3] They created the Silence=Death poster using the title phrase and a pink triangle, which during the 1970s had become a gay pride symbol reclaimed by the gay community from its association with the persecution of homosexuals in Nazi Germany and the Holocaust.[4]

The Silence=Death poster was used by the newly formed group ACT UP as a central image in their activist campaign against the AIDS epidemic. In 2017, the image was reinstalled in the windows of the Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art[5] with a new line at the bottom: "Be Vigilant. Refuse. Resist."


  1. ^ Emmerman, James (July 13, 2016). "After Orlando, the Iconic Silence = Death Image Is Back. Meet One of the Artists Who Created It". Slate. 
  2. ^ Kerr, Theodore (June 20, 1017). "How Six NYC Activists Changed History With 'Silence = Death'". Village Voice. 
  3. ^ Finkelstein, Avram (November 22, 2013). "Silence Equals Death Poster". New York Public Library. 
  4. ^ "Silence=Death". ACT UP. 
  5. ^ "FOUND: Queer Archaeology; Queer Abstraction". Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art. Retrieved June 22, 2017. 

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