Positive Life NSW Blog

Art at AIDS 2018

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Art at AIDS 2018

Visibility, empowerment and activism. Art holds for us many values; it is aesthetic, emotive, psychological and political.

Artists make the invisible, visible through story telling. Artists reflect to us the health of our communities and society through depicting social, political and cultural triumphs, tragedies and taboos.

There are many examples I could share with you from my time at AIDS 2018. The diversity of communities and people represented in the art spans all PLHIV. From trans and gender diverse people, to sex workers, people who inject drugs, women, indigenous people and intersections of these identities, art featured at AIDS 2018 highlighted the humanity of people’s lives who are affected by HIV, in a conference largely focused on data and science.

The art and artists featured both in the public spaces outside the conference centre and within the Global Village was performative in empowering people living with HIV (PLHIV) and activism through the visual.

The persistence of plastic: My struggle with HIV and AIDS

This is a photographic series by Finnish artist Toni Kitti. After barely surviving AIDS, HIV has been a major theme in his work. The basis for Kitti's art is his love for plastic. He uses plastic to perform acts of humour in front of the camera. These acts of “funny things” enables the artist to be reflective of his experience of HIV, while acknowledging his own resilience and positive outlook on life.


Toni KittiShame Time (panels), Toni Kitti

Toni Kitti - The FistThe Fist, Toni Kitti

Six Little Rabbits: (HA)ART against serophobia

Artist, Conigli Bianchi is an Italian comic article living with HIV. He uses the language of comics to illustrate medical information to shed light on some of the most common misconceptions and myths surrounding HIV and AIDS. His ‘Six Little Rabbits’ series hung as printed fabrics outside the conference centre and depicted whimsical portraits of rabbits across six themes - follow me (up to date information), connect (empathy), undress me (sexual freedom for everyone), confront and reclaim (our voices do matter), pull me out (subversive power of visibility) and get over it (the proud rabbit of resilience). Bianchi describes ‘The White Rabbits’ as being “the grandchildren of Keith Haring who was one of the first artists to understand the “subversive power of art in the struggle against HIV and AIDS”.


Conigli BianchiConigli Bianchi

Conigli Bianchi RabbitConigli Bianchi Rabbit made out of Gilead Medications

Invisible lives: HIV on the fringes of society

This photographic and text story-based installation proudly sat in Amsterdam’s public space outside the conference centre and publicly declares the stories and contexts for a diversity of people living with HIV such as people who use drugs, sex workers, transgender people, gay men, street kids and prisoners. It was wonderful to see the structures that would ordinarily host sponsor’s advertising at other conferences, proudly showcasing the lives of people who normally exist on the fringes of society.




Video shot by Ronald De Klerk

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