It’s been more than three decades since the FDA instated its lifetime ban on gay blood donors, and attempted a revision last month, calling for a year of celibacy from gay donors. In the slew of responses that the FDA’s homophobic blood ban invited, New York City-based artist Jordan Eagles created a deeply affecting and astonishingly beautiful sculpture called Blood Mirror to oppose the discriminatory ban.
In 2015, Jordan Eagles enlisted a group of nine extraordinary homosexual men, each having their own unique life story, to donate their blood in protest of the FDA’s ban. From the donated blood, Eagles created an installation called “Blood Mirror”, which gives the viewer their reflection in a pane of crimson! Activist and filmmaker Leo Herrera documented the entire blood donation process and interviewed the nine donors to provide a behind-the-scenes look at the creative process complete with a political art film “Blood Mirror“.
The project blood donors include an 88-year-old homosexual priest, a Nigerian gay rights activist, currently on political asylum in the U.S., the CEO of Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC), the co-founder of GMHC, an identical gay twin (his straight brother is eligible for donation), a married transgender couple, a captain in the Army who served two terms in Iraq but was later discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (reinstated to services in 2014), and a bisexual father of two.
The sculpture, Blood Mirror, is a seven-foot-tall monolith that carefully encases and preserves the blood of the donors. A totem of science and equality, the “Mirror” reflects a time capsule of the donors’ blood that personifies the 32-year long history of the FDA’s invidious ban. Blood Mirror seeks to create an open dialogue and hence effect change around the US Food & Drug Administration’s current prejudicial policy on blood donations from homosexual and bisexual men.
“I wanted to create a sculpture that would become a time capsule, documenting this moment in time, while showing that this blood could have been used to save lives,” said Eagles.
This discriminatory policy is part of our gay history and part of our nation’s history, and the sculpture asks us to reflect on discrimination in our country, as well as the homophobia that exists around the world. For me, the sculpture is a work in progress. It will never be finished until the FDA’s blood donation policy is fair for all people.
Apart from the extensively controversial aspects of using human blood as an art form, its critical overtone makes it even more powerful. Blood Mirror has a strong political stance and strives to generate a dialogue regarding the FDA’s regulations on blood donations as well as its modification. The use of blood in such an aesthetic manner not only adds strong visuals but also condemns a situation present within the medical world. The merging of the science and art worlds created a striking, immersive, disturbing, and oddly gorgeous sculpture that displays the necessity and beauty of elements such as blood and the impactful power they hold.