poster/VIRUS: Artists Affected by HIV Use Images to Make Daring Statements

poster/VIRUS: Artists Affected by HIV Use Images to Make Daring Statements

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Alex McClelland and Jessica Whitbread

poster/VIRUS Curators

We are under pressure. Our viral loads are overloaded. The response to AIDS is becoming destabilized. We are faltering, becoming complacent, giving up and giving in. The law is creeping further and further in. Our bodies are over-medicalized. And our lives are under-supported. We are not the public that 'Public Health' cares about. The AIDS Industrial Complex forces out Treatment as Prevention, while state indifference and austerity measures crush us. But we are "resilient" right?

We are tired of the limits imposed on how we can talk about AIDS. We are tired of individualized responses that ignore the realities and complexities of our lives. We are tired of being defined through acronyms. We are tired of the buzzwords, language that privileges some groups over others and increases the divide between us and them. The bureaucratization of AIDS has marginalized voices that complicate for too long.

But things are changing. There is a move from business suits and pharma-driven hotel conferences back to the grassroots. This year with the poster/VIRUS project we continue to make new assertions about AIDS. We have worked with artists and activists on a series of works that address poverty, sex work, HIV disclosure, queers, incarceration, criminalization, privilege and neo-liberalism.

With this project we are calling for a return to dialogue and complexity. We are moving away from one-way social marketing AIDS campaigns. We are critiquing public health messages that divorce people from the harmful impacts of institutions and the state. This is why these works were developed as a dialogue between activists and artists, and this is why we encourage these works to help promote community dialogues. We continue the tradition of claiming space for those of us who are most impacted by the epidemic. We hope that these works provoke, critique and encourage new ways of conceptualizing and talking about AIDS. The AIDS experience is spoken through many voices. As a diverse community, we have always been able to take care of each other. We need to remember where we came from. We need to continue to self-organize. AIDS ACTION NOW!