Positive Life NSW Blog

Celebrate our community on World AIDS Day

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IMAGE: Sydney Gay and Lesbian Choir - World AIDS Day 2016
Photo: Rob Watts

Thirty years since the height of the HIV epidemic, Positive Life NSW celebrates and commemorates the lives of people living with HIV on World AIDS Day at Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum. Cec Busby reports.

As the custodian of the Australian AIDS Memorial Quilt Project, the Powerhouse Museum seemed like the obvious choice when Positive Life NSW was searching for a venue for their World AIDS Day commemorations. The Quilt Project began in 1988 and provided a focus for a community swept away by grief as the AIDS virus devastated swathes of gay men. Made up of over 100 quilts it commemorates the lives cut short by HIV/AIDS.

“The panels haven’t been put up on display for several years, so we are looking forward to seeing them and revisiting the stories and lives they reveal,” says Craig Cooper, CEO of Positive Life.

Mr Cooper described the tumultuous time in the community’s history and the important role the Quilt played in people’s lives. When putting together this World AIDS Day event, Positive Life sought to contrast two time frames – the 80s experience with that of the modern day person living with HIV in 2016.

Enter artist Sebastian Zagarella. Zagarella first came to attention in 2015 when his exhibition Inside Out premiered at the Mardi Gras Festival. For the exhibition Zagarella delivered his interpretation of living with a life defining illness in a work which saw an image of the HIV virus applied to mundane domestic objects.

“Sebastian’s work is a contemporary version of the quilt in a way,” says Jane Costello, President of Positive Life. “It normalises what living with the virus is in 2016 and allows conversations around silence and stigma and the everyday nature of living with HIV.”

“We have the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Choir closing our event formalities with Sydney icon Ben Drayton DJ-ing,” said Craig Cooper, “so there are nice juxtapositions of different time periods. And the reverent Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence are going to bless the event for us.”

“We hope attendees will celebrate and commemorate the lives and experiences of people living with HIV in this inviting, engaging and entertaining context and this event gives the audience a past, present and future to consider the message of Ending HIV by 2020,” said Mr Cooper.

“When World AIDS Day began in the 80s it came from a real grassroots need to connect people. In 2016 our knowledge and lived experience of HIV has progressed incredibly and I think this celebration and commemorative moment is important and significant for our community at this time.”


World AIDS Day celebrations kick off at The Turbine Hall, Powerhouse Museum, 500 Harris Street Ultimo on December 1 at 6pm. RSVP by phone (02) 9206-2179 or email communications@positivelife.org.au

Also at SX/GNN - SX/GNN PHOTOS - Positive Life PHOTOS

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