May 11 – July 9, 2021
At the height of the AIDS epidemic experimental drug treatments lead to the invention of modern antiretroviral medications that keep the virus suppressed, but these drugs would have never become available had there not been individuals willing to receive them on an experimental basis. This body of work titled Hard Breath Volume 2 is the second iteration in a series of works exploring the body as artifact and its preservation. In January of 2019 I enrolled as a volunteer in a year-long experimental drug study aimed at treating and suppressing the HIV virus in a way not yet attempted by medical researchers using broadly neutralizing antibodies. During the study I received multiple day-long infusions of two new experimental HIV drugs over several months. To create a record of this process I gave a Polaroid camera to nurses and visitors and asked them to take pictures of me since I was not capable of making a portrait of myself on my own. When I was capable of making photographs on my own during the process I captured my surroundings – hallways, clocks, vials of blood, and the people who helped and supported me. The original polaroid photographs are kept in a red research binder along with thorough original documentation including blood work indicating the detectability of HIV in my body.
Participating in this study and the construction of this photographic record is about making a contribution to the future of HIV treatment – to make it easier for others and perhaps unnecessary one day. This work took on a greater urgency for me in the current wake of the COVID-19 pandemic where the search for a vaccination is at the forefront of medical research. The importance of volunteers willing to put their bodies and livelihoods on the line for the benefit of their fellow humans cannot be ignored. I believe I wouldn’t be alive if there weren’t similarly minded people to develop and test the antiretroviral drugs we have today that keep me alive, and I wish there was more of a record of those who give the gift of their bodies and their stories so that others may hold onto theirs. These photographs are, for me, a small push forward in that direction.
Logan Bellew is a photographer and installation-focused artist based between Brooklyn, New York and Nicosia, Cyprus. The practice of conserving artifacts, stories, and histories form the conceptual core of his work and uses investigative ideologies and autobiographical experiences to develop the deep personal narrative that concerns his work to this day. He is also an active volunteer with the AIDS Solidarity Movement of Cyprus where he was a representative for AIDS Action Europe and helps facilitate island-wide HIV education, public speaking, testing, and outreach campaigns. Logan is currently working to document the experience of volunteering in medical research before and in the wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Logan earned an MFA in photography from the University of New Mexico and currently teaches at the State University of New York in New Paltz and Arizona State University. His photographs, videos, and installations are exhibited and published internationally including the International Association of Photography and Theory in Cyprus, Primal Sight – a contemporary survey of black and white photography – and the Museum of Modern Art’s artist book collection among others. He is one of the first international recipients of a residency with the Visual Artist’s Association of Cyprus.
Logan Bellew is a recent finalist for the John Chervinsky Scholarship 2020.