Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My AIDS Journey: Discovering The Last Light

The photograph featured an old man sitting in a chair, with his back at a tall glass door. The weak daylight poured inside the room to mingle with the pale artificial light of a night lamp. Wide and white, glowing within the shadows, the man’s eyes became yet another source of light in the photograph. With his face drawn and his eyes haunted, he seemed unaware of the mist of shadow and light surrounding him. Rather he gazed beyond the visual sphere of the photograph, as if he found himself at the crossroads between two realms, about to follow a path unfolding in front of him, into some mysterious unknown.
The man in the photograph—his eyes, in particular—haunted me for weeks and months to follow. His story was a mystery to me. At the time there was no way for me to know that I was to embark on a journey of discovery, a journey that would help me unveil his mystery.    
    I browsed through the Unfinished Works website where the award winning photograph was posted. A few clicks brought me to the story of "The Last Light," an image that, as I found out, was the artwork of a visual artist called Kurt Weston.
It so happened that, at the time, I was looking for an artist to interview for an AIDS-related publication. I had found the Unfinished Works website several months earlier and bookmarked it specifically for its Last Light, which now seemed to light the path to the possible subject of my article. Therefore, I emailed Kurt Weston and, luckily for me, he agreed to give me the interview.
    Months later I had the opportunity to travel to the West Coast to take part in a celebration of life and triumph over AIDS, as a guest at Joel Rothschild’s party. Diagnosed with AIDS on April 22nd, 1986, Rothschild—an AIDS activist, long-term survivor and bestselling author—believes in the power of living in the moment.  He talks about that in his books, Signals—A Story of Life After Life and Hope—A Story of Triumph.
While on the West Coast, I also had the chance to meet Kurt Weston and his partner, Terry Roberts.  What followed was an immersion into the visual artist’s world, as I followed Kurt Weston’s journey into darkness and his struggle to rediscover the light.    

PS: You can read more about Kurt Weston, "The Last Light" and many other images and their stories in my book, Journeys Through Darkness.

As always, thanks for visiting!
Alina Oswald

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