“Every one of us has a name. Every one of us deserves to be witnessed, deserves to be seen,” artist Michael Dowling tells me today when I visit “Medicine Wheel,” the annual 24-hour installation and Boston vigil he organizes to mark Day Without Art and World AIDS Day, to honor the millions of people we’ve lost to the disease.
Now in its 26th year, the installation fills the Boston Center for the Arts’ Cyclorama with paintings arranged in grids on the floor and, at the center, a ring of 36 box shrines on pedestals surrounding a circle of panels from the famed Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt (the mammoth homespun monument begun in San Francisco in 1987). It’s on view until midnight tonight.
The theme this year, Dowling explains, is air. “My concept of air is breathing,” he says. “What’s left in the air when people die? What’s left in the air when people leave? Memory.”