The Aids monument in Amsterdam was unveiled on Worlds Aids day. The monument is a giant abacus counting down till Aids has left the world. First the mayor of Amsterdam and the director of the Dutch national Aids Foundation unveiled the monument. They put the giant beads of the monument on 2030. That is the year in which the world can be free of Aids. At the end of World Aids day a first ceremony at the new Aids monument was held.
Aids monument exhibition ‘Living by numbers’
In the evening an exhibition of the Aids monument in the IHLIA LGBT Heritage centre was opened. ‘Living by numbers’ tells the story of the Aids monument, designed by the well known sculptor Jean-Michel Othoniel for free. It also tells the story of 8 people who are in some way affected by Hiv/Aids. You can visit the exhibition on the 6th floor of the Amsterdam public library till 1oth February 2017 for free.
The city alderman Eric van der Burg opened the exhibition by referring to his early days in politics, late ’80’s. At that time he lost several friends and colleagues to Aids. It wasn’t always common then to be open about being gay and/or having Aids. He recounted several funerals where he was standing in the back of the crowd next to the partner of the deceased friend. Partners of Aids victims where often not recognized by the family of the deceased and excluded of the funeral proceedings.
Van der Burg spoke of his sense of pride, that these times have changed. “The people of Amsterdam and The Netherlands are more open and tolerant towards HIV/AIDS, but that is not the case everywhere in the world”. So Van der Burg hopes that this Aids Monument will also be a place for visitors of Amsterdam to be reminded of Aids and to commemorate those people they have lost to Aids.
First ceremony at the Aids Monument
After the performance of “Haima”, a music piece specifically composed for this event by Christian della Giustina, the ceremony moved from the Public Library to the Aids monument. Almost 200 people carrying a rose and a small light, walked the short distance to the monument. They were as diverse as the communities affected by Aids: young and old; men and women; mothers, fathers and children; leather men, bears, drag queens and men in suits; people with and people without HIV.
All these people put their roses and lights at the foot of the monument to commemorated friends and family. Finally local gay icon Dolly Bellefleur sang “The Rose” a song which has become an anthem within the Aids community.