Tag Archives: Art

Photographer Wolfgang Tillmans Opens Up About Living HIV Positive

In an interview with SHOWStudio’s Lou Stoppard for their ongoing “In Camera” series, queer artist/activist Wolfgang Tillmans spoke candidly about the impact HIV has had on his personal and professional life. “I found out, I myself am HIV positive, but I never made that an active subject in my work, “he said. “People are so scared of aids, they think that everything in the world is foreshadowing this.”

Story via OUT.com

Tillmans continued, opening up about his boyfriend Jochen Klein, a German painter who died from AIDS-related complications in 1997. “HIV impacted my life from the first day of experiencing having sex,” Tillmans said. “Of course, it affected me when my boyfriend, my love of my life suddenly died of it. At the time therapy was possible, but he found out too late.”

The artist remembered having sleepless nights at 16, when he was worried he’d die soon after having sex with a man. “I had a swollen gland, but of course I was just being a hypochondriac,” he said—a mindset fueled by a toxic climate that heavily stigmatized HIV positive people. “AIDS has always been in my life,” he added. “I’m aware of the fragility of life.”

Referencing a 1992 AIDS-focused issue of i-D, Tillmans specifically called out a double page spread by Simon Foxton that said, “We haven’t stopped dancing yet.” In those days “people were just dying,” Tillmans said. “Of course people were clubbing, as well. I’m more than grateful that science and chemistry have allowed medication to exist.”

Though Tillmans says he doesn’t believe all artists need to be creating political work, he has in the past created imagery that speaks directly to his own queer experience living with HIV. “Not every photograph is a comfortable one and I find photography embarrassing because you’re revealing your interests,” he said. “To overcome that embarrassment you have to feel a certain sense of urgency, like you need this picture, and you want to talk about it and that is important.”

Tillmans’ 2014 photograph, “17 Years’ Supply,” depicts a giant cardboard box filled with bottles of HIV drugs—some marked with Tillmans’ own name. His work, as a whole, has also largely spoken to the LGBTQ experience: 2014’s “Arms and Legs” is an erotic close-up of a male hand slipped underneath another man’s red athletic shorts; 2012’s “Juan Pablo & Karl, Chingaza” features two men smoking and laying together on a bed of grass.

Watch Wolfgang Tillman’s full SHOWstudio interview, below.

Thanks for reading, let us know what you think in the comments below, or you can find us on FacebookTwitter or Instagram!

bfb01    btw01    bin01

                  (Or subscribe to our newsletter)

Advertisements

Have you ever wondered what HIV sounds like?

sounds-of-hiv

The majority of us enjoy music to some degree or another, pop, classical, rock R&B but have you ever wondered what HIV would sound like?

There is a range of sound and music, which lies beyond the range of human hearing. “Sounds of HIV” is a musical translation of the genetic code of HIV, the human immunodeficiency virus. In this album, segments of the virus are assigned musical pitches that correspond to the segment’s scientific properties. In this way, the sounds reflect an accurate, musical nature of the virus. When listening from beginning to end, the listener hears the entire genome of HIV.”

You may think that expressing nucleotides of the genome of a virus as pitches of the melodic scale as a promotional stunt, why would you draw a connection between adenosine and A, between cytosine and C and so on?

University of Georgia graduate student Alexandra Pajak’s instrumental sequence ensemble which draws inspiration from the physical properties of HIV itself!

“Sounds of HIV,” is a 17-track, 52-minute long musical adaptation of HIV’s genetic code. Pajak assigned pitches to the four basic nucleotides in DNA — A for Adenine, C for Cytosine, G for Guanine and D for Thymine — but the score contains much more than these for notes

Applying scientific rigour to music is nothing new and has been done in the past with math so why not with biochemistry? Alexandra Pajak, native of Athens, Georgia studied both composition and sciences and her work reveals a fascination with both subjects. Then there is a general sense of unease, creeping in. This undeniably beautiful music expresses HIV, a virus responsible for the destruction of much beauty and art. On one hand, it’s tempting to assume that nature’s creations achieve a high level of symmetry and beauty and a virus should not be exempt from that principle.

On the other hand, what terrible beauty is there to be found should we glimpse inside the genome of the plague, syphilis, smallpox or even flu? These ruminations tend to accompany listening to this oddly-concordant composition, performed with aplomb by the Sequence Ensemble.

In a way, the strange and disturbing recording reveals itself beautiful yet disturbing as the sounds reflect the true nature of the virus. When listening from beginning to end, the listener hears the entire genome of HIV.”

Unfortunately, we’re unable to stream the full album however here’s the links to it on Google Music or Spotify, if you’re more old school, here’s the CD on Amazon.

Thanks for reading, let us know what you think in the comments below, or you can find us on FacebookTwitter or Instagram!

bfb01    btw01    bin01

                  (Or subscribe to our newsletter)

Blood on the Dance Floor – From Heritage to Health.

_93863153_12_botdf_20160604-297_hires

Jacob Boehme has put his experiences of being a gay, indigenous, HIV-positive man into a solo show Image credit Bryony Jackson

Jacob Boehme remembers when he knew something was seriously wrong.

It was 1998 and Boehme had had a nagging cold for months. An Aboriginal elder “sat me in the middle of her legs and started to sing over me”, he recalls. Performing a healing ceremony, she wiped the sweat from his armpits and smothered it on his head and neck. Eventually, she muttered: “Ahh, you need to go to a Western doctor. Everything is red. I cannot help you.”

Boehme was diagnosed with HIV. In an era when antiretroviral treatments were in their infancy, it was the first news of its kind his doctor had delivered. “He was choked up and almost crying,” Boehme says. “I had to console him.”

Now 43, Boehme is not only still alive, he has put his experiences of being a gay, indigenous, HIV-positive man into a solo show. Blood on the Dance Floor, which just played at the Sydney Festival, explores what our understanding of blood means, from heritage to health.

Better portrayals

Combining storytelling and dance, the work includes a skit on being a camp “gay elder” in drag, discussion of stigma around HIV in the gay community (particularly when trying to find a partner), and moments when Boehme is framed, moving, against streams of blood, with bubbling red cells projected against the wall.

Most important, he says, is rewriting the conversation on what being HIV-positive means.

_93863157_blood-on-the-dancefloor-21

Boehme’s show features a projection representing blood cells Image credit Bryony Jackson

“Anything shown in the media or entertainment, it’s always been some kind of memorialisation of the Aids crisis back in the ’80s. Everybody dies,” he elaborates.

“That’s not relevant to me and to many of the other men and women that I know living with HIV. There isn’t an image of a healthy functioning person with employment and prospects – you don’t see that portrayed anywhere.”

Another key step, he says, is broadening our understanding of who suffers from the virus. According to the University of New South Wales, notification rates (the reporting of newly-diagnosed cases) of indigenous men with HIV doubled in the past five years from 6.2 per 100,000 to 12.4 per 100,000. In contrast, non-indigenous notification rates fell by 12%, said the report by the university’s Kirby Institute.

Despite this, education campaigns largely remain directed towards white men, says Boehme.

“Tell me the last time you saw an HIV education campaign with someone from the Aboriginal, Asian or African identity on those posters? You just see gay white men in their underwear,” he points out.

“It makes quite a lot of people feel completely dismissed and it’s not just the gay male community – it’s heterosexual males living with HIV, kids living with HIV too. It’s never been a gay white man’s disease.”

Stigma in communities

Born in Melbourne to a non-indigenous mother and father from the Narungga and Kaurna peoples of South Australia, Boehme knew he was gay from the age of four.

The dancer – who is the incoming creative director of the Melbourne Indigenous Arts Festival – has always had the support of his family.

_93863155_30_botdf_20160601-017-edit_hires

Boehme uses blood to explore themes of heritage and health Image credit Bryony Jackson

Others are often not as lucky. In some Aboriginal communities, stigma towards homosexuality remains, insists Boehme.

“When you go into communities that are very much still holding up the values of the old mission days, that’s when you get a problem, through those Christian and very Victorian ideas of sex, gender and sexuality,” he says.

Blood on the Dance Floor was dreamed up after rehearsals in a warehouse. Boehme was “obsessed about my blood, about the cleanliness of my blood”. After nicking his heel on an exposed nail, “I sat back down and realised I left a trail of blood on the dance floor. And [my friend] went ‘ah, there’s your title’.”

“Blood, it’s a life force that connects us, it can be used to define us and can be used to discriminate, to separate, or to actually unite,” Boehme says.

Honouring a friend

When writing the show, the artist kept a small crystal decanter of his own blood on his desk. “Suddenly I was connected to my dad, then my grandmother, then a whole line of our ancestors that I never met and through that, those voices started to then speak through me. In that blood, in those codes, there are thousands of generations sitting in that little decanter.”

Boehme says blood connects him to his past and, above all, to his illness. But it also releases him. “Regardless of what features or skin colour we have, really our blood is the thing that ties us together,” he says.

_93863159_capture

The artist is set to begin as creative director of the Melbourne Indigenous Arts Festival Image credit Bryony Jackson

A particularly raw moment in Blood on the Dance Floor touches on the suicide of Boehme’s friend in 1996 after discovering he was HIV-positive. It was a time when “there was still this spectre hanging around like it was a death sentence. There was a lot more shame around HIV and he just couldn’t cope.”

Boehme still remembers when he found out. His friend’s boyfriend, drunk, announced at a dinner party that his partner was positive. “I looked at him. And he said, ‘I don’t want that look. I don’t want anyone’s pity. Don’t you dare give me that look.'”

Just two years later – as antiretroviral drugs were being rolled out to the larger population – Boehme received his own diagnosis. In Australia in the 1990s around 1,000 people died each year of Aids. Today, deaths are so low they are not recorded.

“That’s exactly why I insisted we honour him,” Boehme says of his friend. “He didn’t get a chance.”

Thanks for reading, let us know what you think in the comments below, or you can find us on FacebookTwitter or Instagram!

bfb01    btw01    bin01

                  (Or subscribe to our newsletter)

Sunil Gupta – From Here to Eternity

babe

From ‘From Here To Eternity’ by Sunil Gupta

Sunil Gupta, is a HIV positive photographer who specialises in self portraiture, documentary and emotive photography.

In his series ”From Here to Eternity,” seen complete here, is in diptych format. On the left are snapshot-style pictures of the artist, in two cases in the process of receiving H.I.V.-related medical treatment. On the right are pictures of exteriors of gay clubs in London, deserted in daylight. The pairings look simple but are laced with complicated information.

In one lefthand photo, Mr. Gupta hugs a small pet dog; behind him hangs a framed picture of the phallic-looking Delhi landmark called the Qutab Minar, a 13th-century mosque tower built by Muslim colonizers. (Its Arabic inscription reads that it was built to cast the long shadow of God over the conquered Hindu city.) The right panel shows the locked gate like door of a club and beside it, a billboard with the words ”If God exists, why doesn’t He help you?”

The celebratory sense of communal empowerment sometimes associated with art produced in response to AIDS is missing here. Instead, social gathering places are inaccessible, desolate, sometimes half-hidden. Tenderness is a solitary emotion. Liberation takes the comfortless form of unromantic self-awareness.

Generating awareness, personal and public, has propelled Mr. Gupta’s career for nearly two decades, as an artist, writer and curator. He doesn’t makes it easy to come by; it rarely has a feel-good payoff, but it is the moral spine of this fine show.

STAY UPDATED
Follow LASS on Twitter
or subscribe by email
Visit Well For Living
for well-being news and info or follow_THEM-a copy

LASS Craft Group

The therapeutic effects of arts and craft work is known to provide people with opportunities to relax, to feel a sense of accomplishment, to discover pride, to improve fine-motor skills, to develop a meaningful life-long hobby, to maintain an alert mind and so much more.

This is why we’re stating a craft group, and it’s open to anyone who is affected by HIV and would like to teach, or learn new craft skills such as knitting, paper crafts, jewellery making, sewing and crocheting.

We hope our crafts group will allow you to practice a number of skills while building self-esteem in completing projects and socialising with our staff, volunteers and individuals who use our services.

Our first session is this Wednesday, 18th April 2012 from 17:30 – 19:00.  We invite you to bring your crafting projects to show off to the group but don’t worry if you don’t have any as you’ll have the chance to get creative at the group. – We can’t wait to see what you create!

For more information, please contact Rhoda on 0116 2559995

STAY UPDATED
Follow LASS on Twitter
or subscribe via email

EQ Festival At The Musician

Tucked away in a quiet back street in the heart of Leicester, The Musician is the Midlands premier independent music venue. With live music at least six nights a week, it holds 220 people and features comfortable seating, full disabled access, easy parking and a selection of real ales.

Since opening in 2000, The Musician’s reputation has been built on presenting the very best home grown and international performers in a relaxed and friendly environment. With a supremely eclectic booking policy the venue regularly features everything from contemporary singer-songwriters to rock, blues, folk, ska, punk, world, bluegrass, reggae, metal, soul, indie, avant-garde and Americana.

We hope you’ll come down on the 26th August to join the festivties which is helping to raise money for Leicestershire AIDS Support Services, acts performing on the night include:

Counteraction, Shapeshifter/Multimorph, Grace & The Magic Roots, Roger Pugh and Sleeping Through Rapture.

Tickets costs a mere £2.50 and the party starts at 6:30pm, til late, see you there!

STAY UPDATED
Follow LASS on Twitter
or subscribe via email