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Living Proof: Courage in the Face of AIDS

Living Proof: Courage in the Face of AIDS

by Carolyn Jones (Photographer), Michael Liberatore (Introduction), Ian McKellan (Foreword by)

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This moving and beautiful book offers unprecedented insight into the astounding strength of the human spirit when confronted with illness, pain, loss, and death. Features 75 black-and-white photographs.

Carolyn Jones's vivid and life-affirming portraits capture people from all backgrounds—children and grandmothers, men and women of all


This moving and beautiful book offers unprecedented insight into the astounding strength of the human spirit when confronted with illness, pain, loss, and death. Features 75 black-and-white photographs.

Carolyn Jones's vivid and life-affirming portraits capture people from all backgrounds—children and grandmothers, men and women of all races—living with HIV and AIDS.

It is estimated that over one million people in the United States would test positive for the Human Immune Virus, and many others are already suffering from Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. A common-and harmful-misconception holds that AIDS is an instant death sentence but, in fact, testing positive for HIV does not mean immediate illness. Carolyn Jones has collaborated with George DeSipio, Jr., and Michael Liberatore (co-founders of the project), and the seventy-three people who volunteered to pose for these photographs in an inspiring effort to change the way we think about AIDS. Jones's compelling portraits have the power to profoundly alter perceptions about this disease, and about the way we all live and die. AIDS poses challenging questions that we must each grapple with, whether healthy or not. These captivating pictures illustrate the self-confidence and wisdom of ordinary people coping with an extraordinary fate, facing their mortality, questioning their priorities, and living life to the fullest. Their energy, courage, and dignity in the face of such adversity offer a vital lesson in how to embrace life, day by day. Their faces and their stories are proof that AIDS doesn't look like anyone—it looks like, and ultimately is, all of us.

Design Industries Foundation for AIDS (DIFFA) is the sole recipient of the royalties from the sale of Living Proof. For additional information regarding Living Proof and the Design Industries Foundation for AIDS, please call DIFFA: (212) 727-3100.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"There is a light, a confidence, a calm, a dignity, a celebration of life that all these faces share. Thanks to Carolyn Jones for showing us the face of AIDS we are too afraid to see." — Susan Sarandon

"The buoyancy…is magical, as if everyone concerned is embarking together on a journey that could transform the hard realities of so many lives." — Carol Squiers, American Photo

"The face of courage is a face of beauty. Let us look, liger, and learn." — Lynn Redgrave

"An inspiring, inspiriting book." — Susan Sontag

"I am stunned by this collection of photographed humans and the revelation of their shared truth. I cheer; I grieve; and I seek an unknown word to express the magnitude of what I feel in my heart having experienced Living Proof." — Tommy Tune

Product Details

Abbeville Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
9.37(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.64(d)

Read an Excerpt

Living Proof

Courage in the Face of AIDS

By Carolyn Jones


Copyright © 1996 Carolyn Jones
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-89660-079-9

Excerpt from: Living Proof: Courage in the Face of AIDS

Foreword by Ian McKellen

Looking at this collection of photographs for the first time, you ask yourself, "What do these people have in common?" At first glance, the answer might seem trivial. These ordinary-looking people—so like our friends and acquaintances—reveal few hints of home, income, or lifestyle. Maybe they just share a birthday or a passion for ice cream. Have they, perhaps, all met the president or the Pope or each other? That might be it: they could all live in the same town. Would anyone ever have guessed that these people share a virus? Take a second look, then a third.

Each of them was invited to a completely bare studio, where there were no distractions in the background. In the photographs, they clearly wear their own clothes, exhibiting a relaxation that those black-and-white ads for jeans never quite achieve. These are not models, they are not on display. They do, however, all seem to want to be photographed. No doubt Carolyn Jones put them at ease. But they haven't just been captured by her loving camera; they have captivated her lens. Their charisma has put them in control. That is what vitally connects them—not just the shared virus but a self-confidence about the disease and about life; they communicate a tremendous sense of exhilaration. These are not ordinary people after all.

Before HIV/AIDS had an official name, all we heard were confusing rumors. The virus was called the "gay cancer"; it came from monkeys, from Africans, from Haitians; it had escaped from a madman's laboratory. None of it seemed real enough to be our personal concern. By the time the media admitted that it was the story of the century, we were being encouraged to think that the disease was a punishment and that it had, somehow, been created by its carriers. That can be true of any plague, if we identify the carrier as ignorance and poverty and a belief that nothing can be done.

At the same time we read about "innocent victims": hemophiliacs infected by "poisoned" blood transfusions, babies infected by drug-addicted mothers. But as HIV/AIDS spread—especially throughout major metropolitan areas—more and more of us had friends who got sick, and famous people died. AIDS became a challenge. Money was raised for research, support groups were formed to provide care, and lobbies were created to persuade. Everyone, whether HIV positive or negative, had a story to tell. What moves me most about Carolyn Jones's portraits is that they tell no detailed stories, but they reveal everything about her subject's inner lives. Miraculously, she has photographed people's souls.

Nationalism flares up, famine rages, and the ozone layer burns. Yet, when history eventually passes judgment on our apocalyptic age, surely the decisive question will be: "What did they do about AIDS?" What did the United Nations do, across the world? What did the politicians do, nationally and locally? And the churches and commerce and the media? What did any of us do?

Even now, during the second decade of the pandemic, its clear that too many of us have done too little. But blame and anger are only part of the story. The whole truth of AIDS cant be found in the inertia of government, in the exaggerations of the media, or in the bigots lies. AIDS has unleashed great power in individuals and in groups—among people who have learned how to care and counsel, who have organized their consciences.

At the heart of the matter are the people who know the most about living with this disease—the people in this book. The truth about HIV/AIDS shines from their faces, bodies, hands, feet, and smiles, which have captivated the camera for our enlightenment.

London, 1993


Excerpted from Living Proof by Carolyn Jones. Copyright © 1996 Carolyn Jones. Excerpted by permission of Artabras.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Carolyn Jones, a fashion and portrait photographer for Esquire, Interview, and Italian Vogue, among many other publications, participated as a photographer and driver in the Paris/Dakar Rally and Bruce Jenner's Pride in America Rally, and made the television documentary "Women…on Family." She lives in New York City, where she also has her studio.

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