Jean-Michel Othoniels “Living by Numbers” winning design for AIDSmonument Amsterdam

French artist Jean-Michel Othoniel (1964) is commissioned to create the AIDSmonument that will be unveiled on World Aids Day 2015 on the waterfront of the IJ. The art commission that advises the Names project said: Othoniel shows us that an AIDS monument need not be sad. In a very subtle way he combines a delicate theme with beauty and elegance. The dazzling light near the water is reflected in the murano glass beads. The design perfectly interacts with the location.”

Living by Numbers

Relying on each other. Relying first of all on oneself and recognising all those who count and have counted. For all these years, all we have done is count: our days since the arrival of AIDS; our dead friends; the days on which we have beaten illness; our hopes; our therapies; the number of ill people we know; our hours of happiness.

It is also relying on others, on their determination. These beads allow us to visualise the number of hours we have devoted to the fight. Counting should be a game and this huge abacus should be a sign of hope that all these figures drop, that we start again from
zero and that there is an end to this counting. This monument is there so that we do not forget that we have to continue to fight for that.

This monument interacts with our thoughts, indicating primarily that the only real interaction is inward, regarding our demands in the face of illness and not giving up.

The beads on this abacus are joyful, coloured and even festive, indicating that there is hope and that we must thank all those who have kept us alive (lovers, friends, relatives, doctors…).
The large bench will be produced in a soft metal that will enable visitors to etch a message, to leave graffiti. This will be theirway of expressing their passage. A bench facing the sea is a place and time for contemplation. The abacus evokes the number of people who are ill, who have departed, but also the number of people involved in the fight, the number of hours and the amount of energy that has been linked to this fight against AIDS for so many years. It is also a tribute to the city of Amsterdam, to its activity, to its port, to the number of commercial and cultural exchanges, to the transactions, to its wealth, to the differences that have arrived by sea for centuries. It is an invitation to look to the horizon and hope for better times.

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