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Brian Weil collection

Identifier: AG 175


  • Creation: 1970-1996


Language of Materials

Material in English

Conditions Governing Access

To access materials from this collection, please contact

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright held by Kenneth C. Weil.

It is the responsibility of the user to obtain permission from the copyright owner (which could be the institution, the creator of the record, the author or his/her transferees, heirs, legates or literary executors) prior to any copyright-protected uses of the collection.

The user agrees to indemnify, defend, and hold harmless the Arizona Board of Regents, the University of Arizona, Center of Creative Photography, including its officers, employees, and agents, from and against all claims made relating to copyright or other intellectual property infringement

Biographical Note

Brian Weil (1954-1996), was a photographer and activist who spent his career documenting marginalized communities, using photography as an excuse to become deeply immersed in the lives of others. Weil was born in Chicago and began photographing as a teenager where he attended Columbia College, before moving to New York City. His early projects include Sex, an exploration of fetish practices such as workers in sex clubs, bondage, and bestiality; Miami Crime, developing over two years Weil spent with Miami Police Department detectives during homicide investigations; and Hasidim, for which Weil lived with insular Hasidic Jewish communities in Brooklyn and the Catskills.

Weil became involved in the AIDS crisis as a volunteer and organizer in the mid-1980s; he volunteered with Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) and later joined ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power). Weil traveled to Liverpool, Haiti, Bangkok, Santo Domingo, Zimbabwe, and South Africa to research and document responses to the AIDS pandemic, as well as to aid in the establishment of community-based AIDS organizations. In the 1990s Weil helped found the first needle exchange program in New York City, and worked with a group that became the New York Harm Reduction Educators to study the spread of AIDS and develop needle exchange programs. His series The AIDS Photographs were the photographic product of his work during the HIV epidemic, as was his book Every 17 Seconds: A Global Perspective on the AIDS Crisis.

Weil also worked on a multi-channel video documentary of the gender transition of Susan, a transgender U.S. Army Special Ops veteran, a project that spanned three years and was left unfinished. The photographic process employed by Weil involved re-photographing frames from Super-8 film strips, manipulating the negatives by scratching, dodging, and burning them in the darkroom, and enlarging images to exaggerate their graininess. These techniques were used alongside descriptive titles and text to combat the reduction of his subjects to a spectacle. Weil died in 1996 at the age of 41.


60 Linear Feet

Metadata Rights Declarations

  • License: This record is made available under an Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International Creative Commons license.


The Brian Weil archive, 1970-1996, contains materials made or collected by photographer Brian Weil (1954-1996) which document his career. Included in the collection are exhibition labels, transparencies, and photographic prints from the exhibition, "Brian Weil: The AIDS Photographs."

Immediate Source of Acquisition

CCP received the collection in 1999.


  • Brian Weil, 1979-1995: Being in the World. Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Accessed 16 June 2020.
  • Gregory, Stamatina. Shooting Up in the Museum: Intravenous Drug Use in Brian Weil’s The AIDS Photographs. What You Don’t Know About AIDS Could Fill A Museum, Edited by Theodore (ted) Kerr, Issue 42,, September 2019, pg. 140-150, Accessed 16 June 2020.
  • Knight, Christopher. Review: Artist Brian Weil’s work focuses on a ‘World’ few ever see. Los Angeles Times, 04 February 2015, Accessed 16 June 2020.
  • Smith, Roberta. Brian Weil, 41, Photographer Who Founded Needle Exchange. The New York Times, The New York Times Company, 08 February 1996, Section B, page 13, Accessed 16 June 2020.

Content Warning

The Brian Weil collections holds projects and materials that are foundational in understanding Weil and his work as a photographer who documented marginalized communities. Within this collection there are materials and language that may prove upsetting to encounter. These materials may contain harmful language and may make reference to violence against communities, specifically transgender women. They also include language used within transgender communities during the time of creation which no longer reflect respectful contemporary language. This applies both to the physical holdings and the digital objects housed in Aviary. The CCP places content warnings to allow users to decide when and how to engage with these materials.

Processing Information

Finding aid updated by Madison Reynolds in 2014, by Alexis Peregoy in 2018,Tai Huesgen in 2020, and Elias Larralde in 2022 and 2023.

Brian Weil collection 1970-1996
Finding aid created by CCP Archives Staff
© 2020
Description rules
Finding Aid Based On Dacs (Describing Archives: A Content Standard)
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid encoded in English

Repository Details

Part of the Center for Creative Photography Archives Repository

1030 N. Olive RD
Tucson Arizona 85721 United States