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"Break the Silence"
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Click here to see Photodocumentation page

A collaborative mural to be created with participants of the XIII International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa on July 2000

Xavier Cortada will travel to Durban, South Africa on July 3rd to create Breaking the Silence, the official mural of the XIII International AIDS Conference. (Cortada worked with participants of the XII International AIDS Conference in Geneva to create the Bridging the Gap mural.)

Just as he did during the Geneva Conference in 1998, Cortada will lead this year's Conference participants in writing their messages about the AIDS on small pieces of paper. He will then glue them on the background of the canvas he is painting. The finished Breaking the Silence mural (to measure 20 feet in length) will be unveiled at the closing plenary and presented the people of South Africa.

According to Cortada, "These murals are powerful not only because they are generate much needed awareness today, but because they document what our global community had to say (in virtually every language) about AIDS during critical times during the Pandemic. Unfortunately, the worst appears to be before us --and the orphans left behind. But, in working together, we all have hope that one day AIDS will be wiped off the face of this Earth. On that day, these murals are what will remain as reminders. They will hopefully teach humanity lessons centuries down the line when another crisis faces our world."

When he returns, Cortada will work with Miami's high school students in an art-based project inspired by the Break the Silence mural. Students will see documentation of the mural's creation process and create their own art pieces, conveying messages about HIV/AIDS to their community.

The mural is an official component of the conference and its Amasiko Cultural program. It is co-sponored by the XIII World AIDS Conference and USAID (and its Synergy AIDS project).  The local component is sponsored by Master-Peace International (a special educational program of Miami-Dade Art in Public Places).

About the Conference

The XIII International AIDS Conference will be held in Durban, South Africa from 9-14 July 2000. This is largest international medical conference to be hosted in Africa. Up to 12,000 international participants are expected to attend. Participants will include leading scientists and clinicians, health care workers, public health agencies, People Living With AIDS, politicians, AIDS non-governmental organizations (NGOs), AIDS services organizations (ASOs) and the media. More information about the conference is available at

About the Artist

Cuban-American artist Xavier Cortada combines his passion for art with a deep concern for social and political issues and a belief in the power of art as an agent for social change. Cortada has exhibited his works in museums, galleries, and cultural venues around the world and has pioneered the use of the Internet in collaborative art-making. The Miami-based Cuban-American artist, attorney, and activist has worked collaboratively with diverse groups across the United States, Latin America, Europe and Africa to create pro-social community murals and participant-driven art projects.

He has created numerous murals on AIDS, including a mural titled Bridging the Gap during the XII International AIDS Conference in Geneva two years ago. During the Conference in Durban, USAID will be distributing 10,000 posters of the Reaching Out mural Cortada created in Washington, DC earlier this year. More information on the artist is available at

Master-Peace International is a continuation of the educational and community outreach programming initiated by  Miami-Dade Art in Public Places Trust. Cortada has developed the Master-Peace program as a vehicle for positive change within schools and communities. The Master-Peace program completed projects in a total of twenty-two Miami-Dade County Public Schools in the last two years.

For more information on Cortada's AIDS related murals, please visit the following webpages:

Breaking the Silence mural (Durban, South Africa 2000)

Photodocumentation of the Durban  Mural:

Picture 1
Picture 2
Picture 3
Picture 4
Picture 5
Picture 6

Voices 2000 (Washington, DC 2000)

Reaching Out mural (Washington, DC 2000)

Bridging the Gap mural (Geneva 1998)

Voices 99:  Renewing the Commitment (Washington, DC 1999)

Little Havana Initiative's World AIDS Day (Miami 1997)

Voices (Miami 1996-97)