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Words of Whitman Set to Adorn NYC AIDS Memorial

Words of Whitman Set to Adorn NYC AIDS Memorial

AIDS Memorial

Selections from 'Song of Myself' chosen to pay tribute to the 100,000-plus lives lost during the epidemic

It's been a long time coming, but construction is finally underway on the New York City AIDS Memorial. Situated in St. Vincent's Hospital Park, the memorial will be located directly across from what was once the the location of a significant hospital that served as the epicenter of the disease in New York City, which housed the first and largest AIDS ward on the East Coast.

In March 2013, we reported on the finalized design for the monument, noting that there would some sort of text interwoven into the streamlined design centered around an 18-foot steel canopy. The organization has now revealed that renowned visual artist Jenny Holzer will be working selections of Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself" into the design.

Designed by Studio a+i, the memorial will feature a central granite water feature. Whitman's text will be engraved into the pavement, spiralling outwards from the fountain. As Holzer explained:

"Whitman's message of hope, of dignity in the face of death, of the glories of an embodied life, and of transcendence in the face of oppressiveness and tragedy, spoke to the requirements of the memorial and universalized them. Whitman was also a proud New Yorker, a poet of the people threaded through his city, a man whose work includes paeans to the metropolis that he thought represented the greatest realization of human diversity."

Holzer's work in New York also includes a text-based memorial at 7 World Trade Center. Although chosen by the memorial's organizing body, the text must still be approved by the NYC Public Design Commission.

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