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RED gets your attention

It was amazing enough that there was some blue sky and sun around, for the Netherlands at this time of year [we're lucky to get five minutes a day.] Flags all over the place heralding the Love Life Festival:






Then there were these sculptures. One was a set of letters, each one almost seven feet high, mounted on a platform raising them one more foot; the platform was 55 feet long and it sat right in front of the theatre complex next to City Hall, this is how it looked at night:






These were carried by freight truck from the airport [not located in this city, but Amsterdam] and they stayed up a week. The Love Life Festival preceded Worlds AIDS Day on December 1 and coordinated with it. The events are designed to raise awareness that every five seconds somebody is newly infected by HIV and some 33 million people have already died of AIDS-related disease. Mllions of them are children in developing countries, not because of their sexual behavior but because they are born to mothers carrying the virus. But not just in those countries, either: Elizabeth Glaser, very much a Californian and married to Paul Glaser, of 80's "Starsky and Hutch" fame, got the Virus from a blood transfusion and passed it onto her kids, later started the Pediatric AIDS Foundation in America.

So the next day, here in den Haag, came sixty kids and teachers from Liege, in Belgium, on an educational exchange tour. I happened to pass by them at the sculpture and was totally impressed by their energy:






I have no idea what their teachers were telling them about what the letters meant and why they were there. But I'm sure there were some age-appropriate facts...

The second set of sculptures are more than three times as tall as the letters; not red, but white gauze bandages wrapped around armatures made of felt and metal. There are eight of them. Here's one inside the City Hall framed against the twelve stories of height:






And a row of seven of the eight as you'd see them from the first balcony:






These are designed by Ciska de Hartogh and each represents a million persons who have died from AIDS complications. She uses volunteers from schools, many of them children, to help wind the gauze around the armatures so they get some hands-on experience of making art and some hearts-on experinece of... well, of life, actually. There are something like 33 corporations and foundations supporting her work, all the way from 3M and Ernst + Young [international firms] to local nightclubs and art colleges.

They have no arms to speak of, and no hands to grasp you with. Their feet are merged into the rails they are standing on, which are more than four meters long.

And then there was a dance concert with this as the set. Four of the sculptured heads have film projections focused on them; this picture shows a long sheet draped over the "feet" of some of the sculptures, which was used in the dance:






And as the lights darkened, this was the effect:








The dance was titled "Ärms Around You" and it's going to be in the post above this one.

I've lost three friends / artists to this: two members of my company in Texas and the third a guest performer/dancer with us. Although this happened in the 90s, their memories are still very fresh. One of them, the dancer, was a straight girl. The other two were men: one an actor / stage manager and the other a set designer I loved working with to design his lights.

He in a small but special and eternal way is still designing my own.

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kiota too late for the stars
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