This event is part of our Past Programme
The careful assemblage of personal images and texts that make up Linda Troeller's TB-AIDS Diary confronts the social stigma of disease in a manner that is at once gentle and uncompromising.
The work centres on the experiences of two people: Troeller's mother who contracted TB in the 1930s, and Barbara Cleaver, founder of a Mother of AIDS Patients group, whose son Scott died of AIDS in the 1980s. The experiences are distinct, and are separated by over 50 years, but through her closely related series of photocollages Troeller draws parallels between each set of circumstances, revealing how social pressures have similarly affected individuals caught up in the stress, fear and pain of disease.
Troeller's work began with a collection of old snapshots and a journal that covered her mother's stay in a TB sanitarium during 1933-34. The photographs, together with extracts from her journal, form the basis of the first series of collages.
Central to this series of works are Troeller's own images of a young woman standing against a wall, her body screened by an intense light that suggests both X-Rays and a kind of regenerative force. Her recurring curtsy-like gesture is one of great fragility.
In the second series of collages, Troeller's scrapbook construction is looser, more fragmented. These works use notes, letters, speeches and family photographs obtained from Barbara Cleaver overlaid onto images of a man, and convey directly how the anguish of disease is compounded by discrimination from all levels of society. These recollections are emotive but never sentimental, the work is held together by a positive, forward-looking philosophy.
Linda Troeller studied photography at Syracuse University School of Art. She now works both as a freelance photographer and on independent projects; her photographs have been exhibited and published widely in the US since 1975. TB-AIDS Diary has been shown in Europe and the US since 1988 - this is the first time it has been exhibited in Britain.
Text taken from Gallery Programme, 28 August - 3 November 1990
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