A Kickstarter-funded photography book by Bill Bytsura documents the people behind the AIDS activist movement. Click through for a look at this striking time capsule.
Alan Contini, ACT UP New York, photographed in New York City, 1992
"This image is from the second shoot I did with Alan for the project," photographer Bill Bytsura says. "In the first round of photos he was much healthier. I saw him at an ACT UP meeting at Cooper Union a while after the first photo shoot and saw that his health was not so good. I spoke with him and he agreed to do another shoot because he felt his image at this point would be more powerful. When were doing the shoot, a friend's dog went up to him and just sat beside him. I like to think the dog, named Phaedra, went up to him to give him some comfort."
Aldyn McKean, New York, 1993
"Aldyn McKean lived across the street from me, on East 14th, between 2nd and 3rd Ave. in Manhattan. I remember as I was photographing him, he pulled up his shirt to show me the tube he used when he hooked himself up to the dialysis machine. He asked to include some photographs of that in the session.
"Then a year or so later he called me. He said he was going to an opening, I think it was at the Museum of Modern Art. He went on to say, 'There are no photographs of me in a tuxedo and this may well be the last chance to do one.' He was just leaving his apartment for the opening, I quickly set up the equipment and we did the shoot."
"Aldyn was a frequent spokesman for ACT UP and often represented ACT UP at international AIDS conferences and on national television.
"Aldyn died on February 28, 1994."
A statement from subject Aldyn McKean
Cleews Vellay, ACT UP Paris, photographed in Paris, 1992. Vellay died at the age of 30 on October 18, 1994.
“La Sida, c'est la guerre. Ma colere est inversement proportionnelle a mon taux de T4.”
“AIDS is war. My anger is inversely proportional to my level of T4 cells.”
Statement from subject Cleews Vellay
Corrina Gekeler, ACT UP, Amsterdam
Floyd and Dean
Hal Haner, ACT UP New York, photographed in New York City, 1989
Hal Haner, 1958-1990, was the first person I photographed for this project. This image was taken at my studio on East 14th Street in New York City.
A few weeks after we did the shoot, he came to the studio and I showed him the contact sheets. He picked out this image as his favorite. He said he liked what was going on with the contrast between Reagan's face and his own. I last saw him at a demonstration in 1990. He would walk the picket line once or twice, then take a break sitting on a newspaper dispenser on the sidewalk to catch his breath. He was weakened by AIDS, but continued to fight and held on to the hope of a cure as long as he could.
Hal Haner died on July 7, 1990.
Jay Blotcher, ACT UP, New York. Photographed in New York City in 1990
Blotcher served as media coordinator for the organization from 1989 to 1990, but continued providing media coverage for subsequent demonstrations through the group's 20th anniversary march on Wall Street in 2007.
Meyhdert, ACT UP, Amsterdam
Moises Agosto, ACT UP New York, photographed in New York City, 1991
Agosto was a member of ACT UP New York. He worked on issues concerning people of color. He said his first ACT UP meeting was "like a religious experience."
He has volunteered and worked at a host of organizations: ACT UP, the AIDS Treatment Data Network, the People With AIDS Coalition, and Treatment Action Group. He also helped found ACT UP Puerto Rico.
He is currently living in Washington, D.C., and is the director of research and treatment advocacy at the National Minority AIDS Council.
Statement from subject Mona Bennett
Resi Kompier, ACT UP, Amsterdam
Tigger, ACT UP Amsterdam, photographed in Amsterdam, 1992
I photographed Tigger at the 8th International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam. The conference had been moved in protest from Boston to Amsterdam after the U.S. set the immigration laws forbidding people with HIV to enter the U.S.
In the photo he is with the puppet “Mr. Death.” The puppet was used in demonstrations on the floor of the conference. It was a large puppet and loomed over the floor during the demonstrations.
Tim Bailey, ACT UP New York, photographed in New York City, 1992
"I want my political funeral to be fierce, defiant, and aesthetic. It’s for you, I won’t be there."
Statement from subject Tim Bailey