Reconstructing Fear: AIDS in America
Photography has the ability to mirror reality and reflect honest emotions, transcending beyond the unconscious reservations of the subject or the viewer. There's an undeniable truth that a photographer can ultimately capture in a split second of a decisive moment. Giving images the space to serve as “tangible symbolic self-constructs and metaphoric transitional objects that silently offer insight in ways that words alone cannot as fully represent or deconstruct”. This concept can be applied to and seen in the work of Florida born artist Adrian Chesser’s appropriately titled series I Have Something To Tell You. The work features a series of portraits taken moments after he confessed the paralyzing news of his AIDS diagnosis to his loved ones. All of whom were completely unaware of the physical and emotionally trying battle that Chesser faced.
The subjects pictured in front of Chesser's childhood curtains unintentionally share their sentiments towards death and their ideas towards AIDS itself as they react to a detrimental reality with pure instinct. In turn the project not only presents Chesser with a means to work through his fears of abandonment and rejection but an end by helping him to confront his deeply rooted childhood demons. A manifestation built from the anxiety of growing up gay in a small God fearing community. Therefore, this process, photography becomes a ritual spiritual practice. As Chesser explains in his biography:
“I’ve always felt I would do almost anything to know the power of holding a split second in my hands, and look at it as long and as lovingly as I care to, to capture something as elusive as an emotion, and to feel the power of that emotion possess me each time I look at it.”
The prints expose how people from different cultures, contexts, and circumstances respond when faced with the reality of mortality. This idea and the information the images relay about each individuals state of mind appeal and tap into ones own knowledge of the fragile nature of the human state. Having personally lost one of a close friend to his adverse emotional reaction to his own HIV diagnosis and knowing others who now deal with the positive results of their tests everyday I felt an immediate and overwhelming connection to those who stagnant faces stay frozen in front of my own.