The Spots That Never Went


The Spots That Never Went is a personal reflection on the devastation of AIDS and the lasting impact on a generation, presented in tabloid and broadsheet newspaper formats, assembled in a polypropylene pocket.

The Spots That Never Went is a Highly Commended Finalist of the 2019 Cornish Family Prize for Art and Design Publishing, presented by the National Gallery of Victoria, Australia (announced 14 March 2019).

Sarah Bodman from the Centre for Fine Print Research (CFPR), UWE Bristol, writing for a-N, chose it as one of ten artists’ books of 2018. She writes, “It’s a brutally simple, heartbreaking thing – we need to read more books like this.”

The book was included in ‘Print: A Catalyst for Social Change’, Bury Art Museum, Moss Street, Bury BL9 0DR (9 February-27 April) and was part of Salon 18, Photofusion’s annual members’ show at 17a Electic Lane, London SW9 8LA (7 December 2018 to 12 January 2019).

The Spots That Never Went is presented in tabloid newspaper format, to link its content to the sensational reporting of AIDS by the tabloids in the 1980s/90s. Throughout, enlarged fragments of a heavily half-toned scan of a colour Spectra Polaroid print converted to mono, are used to express distant, distorted memories. The large black and white dots explore notions of negative and positive, of being HIV-negative or HIV-positive, which at the time meant the difference between life and death. The spots also relate to Kaposi’s sarcoma, a skin cancer experienced by AIDS victims in the later stages of the disease, these were the spots that never went.

Opposite each fragment appears one line of text, a memory put down in print, always starting with the words, ‘I remember a time…’

The centrefold shows a larger fragment of the image, with a reproduction of the original colour Polaroid image fixed to the paper. A broadsheet newspaper section shows the complete image, a symbol of remembrance to fix to a wall, where the paper will yellow and age over time, unlike friends and lovers who perished.

Self-published artist book, 28pp, tabloid newspaper (289mm x 380mm, newspaper print, 55gsm); glued-on colour print copy of Polaroid Spectra positive print from scan (100mm x 100mm, matt photo paper, 120gsm); broadsheet newspaper, 4pp (350mm x 500mm, newspaper print 55gsm); archival crystal clear polypropylene pocket, black dot sticker, black board (A4, 415 gsm)

Available at


Roelof Bakker The Spots That Never Went Earl’s Court Notting Hill AIDS

The Spots That Never Went, tabloid newspaper spread

Roelof Bakker Sweat The Spots That Never Went Earl’s Court Notting Hill AIDS

The Spots That Never Went, ‘Sweat’, tabloid newspaper page

Roelof Bakker, The Spots That Never Went

The Spots That Never Went, artist’s book