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Mesmerizing Art Made From Blood Highlights LGBT Injustice

by Laura Feinstein

October 1, 2015

There is an overwhelming need in both America and internationally for blood donations. Unfortunately, over the last 32 years men who have had sex with another man, even once, have been legally barred from donating blood—a bureaucratic remnant from the “gay panic” early years of the HIV scare. In 2014 the FDA announced it would be open to a revision in this policy—allowing gay and bisexual men (but only those who can claim a year of celibacy) the chance to donate.

Angered at the underlying homophobia behind the FDA’s ban, New York City-based artist Jordan Eagles created Blood Mirror—a 7-foot-tall monolith containing blood sampled from nine queer men, encased in resin and fully preserved. Seen up-close, the viewer can actually witness themselves reflected in the sculpture, evoking both curiosity and empathy.

Next week experts, activists and blood donors will coalesce at the American University Museum in Washington, D.C. for an historic (and free) public panel discussion on the FDA’s discriminatory policy on blood donations from gay and bisexual men. The highlight of the lecture will be an exhibition of both Blood Mirror and a luminous pop-up “blood and light” installation, also made from the blood used in Blood Mirror. A larger Blood Mirror exhibition is also currently on display at at the Katzen Arts Center in Washington, D.C. until October 18.

On view at the Katzen Arts Center: Jonny Cota, head fashion designer for SKINGRAFT, collaborated on Blood Flag, a flag created from the red blood cells of all original nine blood donors. According to a rep, “Eagles soaked thread in the blood of the nine men, which Cota then sewed by hand into the flag. The work pays homage to the patriotism associated with blood donation and references scientific advances in the ability to screen blood.”
Untitled preserves the blood bags, blood collection tubes, and medical protective clothing used during the blood donation process and the creation of Blood Mirror. “If the FDA is going to treat us like garbage, might as well make a sculpture out of it,” says Jordan Eagles.

The October 6th panel and events are sponsored by FCB Health, and will feature discussions with Kelsey Louie, CEO at Gay Men's Health Crisis, Prof. I. Glenn Cohen, Faculty Director, Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology & Bioethics at Harvard Law School, Howard Grossman, M.D., Internist and former Director of the American Academy of HIV Medicine and Medical Supervisor and blood donor in Blood Mirror, Oliver Anene, LGBT Activist from Nigeria on political asylum in the US and blood donor in Blood Mirror, Scott Schoettes, HIV Project Director at Lambda Legal, and a performance by The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, D.C. The panel will be moderated by Mark Joseph Stern of Slate.com.

Below, check out Eagles’ inspiring video detailing this ongoing art project.

 

All images courtesy of Jordan Eagles.

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Mesmerizing Art Made From Blood Highlights LGBT Injustice