In 1983, in an early response to the AIDS crisis, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration implemented a lifetime ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men. More than 30 years later, in December 2015, the FDA updated their policy to allow gay and bisexual men to donate blood, but only if they are celibate for a full year. There is no celibacy requirement for heterosexuals, regardless of their risk for contracting HIV. A UCLA Williams Institute study found that lifting the ban completely could save up to a million lives annually.
In 2014, artist Jordan Eagles enlisted a group of nine extraordinary gay, polysexual, and transgender men, each with a unique life story, to donate their blood in protest of the FDA’s ban for the sculpture, Blood Mirror and additional works. In 2016, 50 PrEP advocates gathered in protest to donate their blood to Blood Mirror. Each individual donated a tube of blood–50 tubes equals a full pint, the amount in a standard blood donation–which was collected into the ‘community pint.' Viewers can enter Blood Mirror and see themselves reflected through the blood of the fifty-nine donations. This blood has been encased in resin and is fully preserved, ensuring that the organic material will not change over time. A totem of science and equality, Blood Mirror is an archive of the donors’ blood that confronts the 33-year history of the FDA’s ban and current discriminatory policy.
Installation view, American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center, Washington, D.C.
Blood Mirror, 2015-present
84 x 28 x 28"
59 human blood donations, blood of Oliver Anene, Blue Bayer, Howard Grossman, M.D., Kelsey Louie, Lawrence D. Mass, M.D., Reverend John Moody, Loren Rice, Ty Spicha, CPT Anthony Woods, 50 PrEP advocates, preserved in UV resin
Medical Supervisor, Howard Grossman, M.D.
Installation view, Trinity Wall Street, New York, NY