Tag Archives: photography

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!

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Sunil Gupta – From Here to Eternity

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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.

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Shooting Challenge: Week 6 Winner & Week 7: “Anything Goes!”

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Transcendent Ecstasy by Zoe Van De Velde

Congratulations to Zoe Van De Velde, who created this beautiful image depicting unsafe sex.  Auto-erotic asphyxia is a method of increasing sexual excitement by restricting the oxygen supply to the brain, usually by tightening a noose around the neck.  It often arouses interest among the less experienced – curious schoolboys and young men keen to experiment with masturbation in the belief that the practice heightens sensation at orgasm.  What is not passed on is the fact that it can be fatal.

Although statistics have never been recorded in Britain, one US study estimated that there are between 500 and 1,000 deaths from auto-erotic asphyxia every year. An analysis of 135 such cases by the FBI found the average age of the victims was 26.

Photographs of unsafe sex typically centre on the safe use of condoms and staying safe with your partner.  Zoe has photographed is unsafe sex outside of the ‘normal’ realms which all too often, sexual health charities sometimes ignore.  (Read more about the dangers of Asphyxiation here and here).

Zoe has featured in every #ShootingChallenge week, thank you Zoe! You can see Zoe’s work and that of all our Shooting Challenge entrants (up to two weeks ago) at the Positive Art exhibition on Charles Street, Leicester.  (Details here)

This is our LAST WEEK! – an overall winner will be selected on 17th December at the close of the Positive Art exhibition.

WEEK 7: ANYTHING GOES!

For our last Shooting Challenge let’s keep it easy, in some weeks we’ve had few entries and last week we received just one.  We’re throwing the rule book out the window so you can photograph anything, provided there’s a reason for it relating to HIV and what it means to you.   We’ve been thrilled to see your images on HIV, and we hope you’ve had fun creating the images for the challenge!.  This week, with no restrictions we’d love to see what you come up with!  It could be that of community, an image depicting HIV medicine, a red ribbon, fear or sigma you name it! Your photo could be thought-provoking or humorous, colour or monochrome, have a ‘message’ or just be a great shot that tells a story without any words.  As with last week, there’s no photographic technique to use,

You do not need to be a photographer to join into this competition (and if your a student of the art, we’d love to see your ideas and pictures)!  Almost everyone has a camera on their phone, everyone is capable of taking photographs – we’d like to tap into this, get creative with the gear you already have, it’s not about the tech, it’s about YOU!

THE BRIEF:

Anything goes, simply photograph a representation of HIV or Safer Sex!

THE EXAMPLE

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You no longer need examples! – Check out all the work you’ve done! – Thank you all for participating!

THE RULES:

  • Follow the brief
  • Send your best photos by 6PM on Sunday 14th December 2014 with “Shooting Challenge” in the subject to photography@lass.org.uk and we’ll announce the winner on Monday, 15th December.
  • Submissions must be your own work.
  • Photos must be taken after the challenge was published; so no existing shots please.
  • Explain briefly in your submission email the equipment, settings, technique used and the story behind the image/images.
  • We will of course credit you so if you have a website or twitter handle, let us know! – If you’re happy for us to use the images elsewhere on our site – do let us know!
  • Save your image as a JPG, and use the following naming convention FirstnameLastnameAnythingGoes.jpg
  • Anyone can enter, regardless of camera gear, or location!
  • The most important rule — HAVE FUN!
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Shooting Challenge: Week 5 Winner & Week 6: “Unsafe Sex”

KeeberEstelleHIVTesting

HIV Testing by Estelle Keeber

Congratulations to Estelle Keeber, who created a collage of emotions.  Estelle has said there are various emotions when confronted with HIV testing and there is a mix of people to show that HIV and HIV testing can affect everyone.  She also said this is light hearted, hence the exaggerated expressions but the message is clear.  That it is ok to feel however you want about HIV testing, that everyone is different.  You can see Estelle’s work and that of all our Shooting Challenge entrants (up to last week) at the Positive Art exhibition on Charles Street, Leicester.  (Details here)

Other entrants this week are Celia Fisher, Gavin Whyman and Zoe Van-De-Velde, (images below).  Thank you all for your pictures this week and we can’t wait to see what you come up with next week!

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It Started With Me by Celia Fisher

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Powers Of Persuasion by Celia Fisher

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Know your Viruses by Gavin Whyman

 

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Witch Trial by Zoe Van-De-Velde

 WEEK 6: UNSAFE SEX!

As with last week, there’s no photographic technique this week but we do want you the conform to theme.  We’ve spoken about stigma, big phama, chastity, infections, HIV testing & Safe Sex.  This week, we’d like to know how you would photograph Unsafe Sex.  (Now, bear in mind we’re a family blog, so nothing which can be considered pornographic thank you)!

You do not need to be a photographer to join into this competition (and if your a student of the art, we’d love to see your ideas and pictures)!  Almost everyone has a camera on their phone, everyone is capable of taking photographs – we’d like to tap into this, get creative with the gear you already have, it’s not about the tech, it’s about YOU!

THE BRIEF:

Photograph what you consider unsafe sex to be.  This could be a broken condom, (no condoms)? — drugs, one night stands, alcohol, etc.. get creative and show us how you can represent what unsafe sex can be!  You could be literal, conceptual, funny, clever, thought provoking, depressive, emotive, sexy, it’s all about what you can come up with, and who knows, you could win!

THE EXAMPLE

RobsonTomUnsafe

Ready & Waiting by Tom Robson

In the photograph above, you see clear signs of substance abuse together with an on-line dating app.  What’s just happened? – The individual is face down, is he conscious? Did he manage to get a fix? Did he manage to find someone before he passed out?  What did he say to them if he did? How will he be looked after?  Can he be assured he’s about to have safe sex? These are just the starting questions from this photograph.  Is there anything in this scene which is safe? – Has he called for an ambulance? What is about to happen?

This shot was quickly set up and posed for, yet it’s connotations are that of unsafe sex. – What will your gaze tell you?

THE RULES:

  • Follow the brief
  • Send your best photos by 6PM on Sunday 7th December 2014 with “Shooting Challenge” in the subject to photography@lass.org.uk and we’ll announce the winner on Monday, 8th December as we set the theme for next week’s shooting challenge.
  • Submissions must be your own work.
  • Photos must be taken after the challenge was published; so no existing shots please.
  • Explain briefly in your submission email the equipment, settings, technique used and the story behind the image/images.
  • We will of course credit you so if you have a website or twitter handle, let us know! – If you’re happy for us to use the images elsewhere on our site – do let us know!
  • Save your image as a JPG, and use the following naming convention FirstnameLastnameUnsafe.jpg
  • Anyone can enter, regardless of camera gear, or location!
  • The most important rule — HAVE FUN!
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Shooting Challenge: Week 4 Winner & Week 5: “HIV Testing Week”

Contrast, by Jenny Hand

 

Congratulations this week goes to Jenny Hand who’s photo this week received the most votes.  As World AIDS Day is approaching, Jenny said she wanted to include the symbol of the day and decided to contrast it against the white of a sperm keyring she has.  Well done Jenny!  Her image will be added to the winners of this and the next 3 Shooting Challenges where an overall winner will be decided and a prize given.

Poisoned Apple, by Zoe Van-De-Velde

Poisoned Apple, by Zoe Van-De-Velde

Our other entrant this week is from Zoe Van-De-Velde, featuring a biblical theme with Eve biting into the forbidden fruit and a green ribbon representing the snake.

 

 

 

 

 

 

WEEK 5: HIV Testing Week!

Our theme this week is slightly different, in that we’re not specifying a particular photographic technique to use.  If you’ve been following our shooting challenge you’ll see we haven’t had many entries and that’s ok, it is of course for fun and we feel that some people may be put off by adhering to a photo technique.  So this week, to encourage more entrants, you can use whatever technique you like!  HOWEVER, in keeping with our ever present HIV and Sexual Health theme, we would like you to photograph “HIV Testing”

Nat Tst Wk 2014 GREENIt’s currently HIV Testing Week and LASS are planning a number of events in Leicester to mark it’s third anniversary.

National HIV Testing Week was established by HIV Prevention England in 2012, in a bid to reduce high levels of undiagnosed and late-diagnosed HIV among gay and bisexual men and Africans in England. In 2013, there were an estimated 1250 people living with HIV in Leicester & Leicestershire, one in five of whom remain undiagnosed and therefore more likely to pass the virus on unwittingly.

You do not need to be a photographer to join into this competition (and if your a student of the art, we’d love to see your ideas and pictures)!  Almost everyone has a camera on their phone, everyone is capable of taking photographs – we’d like to tap into this, get creative with the gear you already have, it’s not about the tech, it’s about YOU!

THE BRIEF:

Simply photograph anything you feel is related to a HIV Test.  You could be literal, conceptual, funny, clever, thought provoking, depressive, emotive, sexy, it’s all about what you can come up with, and who knows, you could win!

THE EXAMPLE

 

by Tom Robson

“I’m Testing” by Tom Robson & Chaz Ram

Clearly, you can see this shot didn’t take a lot of time, there are creases in the background, the colour is very slightly off and not all of the scene is in focus.  Yet you can still see elements of clinical procedure here, perhaps the aftermath of a test, (or failed test as there is no blood in the test tube)*

There’s no technique this week and this example demonstrates you can create a photograph using objects around you.  Sure, at LASS we have the advantage of latex gloves, a test tube, rack and a plaster and we’re sure you’ll be able to find items around the home or provide a much better image than this one so why not give it a try?  Tom & Chaz decided upon and shot this image within 2 minutes to demonstrate it doesn’t take a lot of time to get your picture, once you have your idea.

*(LASS Rapid HIV Tests do not need test tube amounts of blood, it’s a simple finger prick)

THE RULES:

  • Follow the brief
  • Send your best photos by 6PM on Sunday 30th November 2014 with “Shooting Challenge” in the subject to photography@lass.org.uk and we’ll announce the winner on World AIDS Day, (1st December 2014) as we set the theme for next week’s shooting challenge.
  • Submissions must be your own work.
  • Photos must be taken after the challenge was published; so no existing shots please.
  • Explain briefly in your submission email the equipment, settings, technique used and the story behind the image/images.
  • We will of course credit you so if you have a website or twitter handle, let us know! – If you’re happy for us to use the images elsewhere on our site – do let us know!
  • Save your image as a JPG, and use the following naming convention FirstnameLastnameEasy.jpg
  • Anyone can enter, regardless of camera gear, or location!
  • The most important rule — HAVE FUN!
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Shooting Challenge: Week 3 Winner & Week 4: Colour & Contrast

Doug Smith

Doug Smith – Winner for Week 3: Perspective

Congratulations to Doug  Smith (again) who has won last week’s shooting challenge! His image will be added to the winners of this and the next 4 Shooting Challenges where an overall winner will be decided and a prize given.

KeeberEstellePerspective

Light at the end of the tunnel by Estelle Keeber

Estelle coveys in her image, the light at the end of a tunnel, after a HIV diagnoses.  By placing a condom over the end of her camera lens then shooting a light source Estelle has conceptually created a ‘tunnel’ using the means to engage in safe sex.  Estelle has said that she enjoys the abstract nature of this image because it invites the question as to what it could be, furthering the debate.

 

 

 

With ‘Infected’ Zoe denotes both pleasure and pain within the same photograph.  She has said, as the disease normally comes from pleasure, then ultimately causes pain she wanted to use the pain to mark herself externally, (something which many people who live with HIV would want to avoid).  By merging sexual bondage and stigma together, HIV looses it’s power to depress as ownership is declared for the condition.

WEEK 4: COLOUR & CONTRAST

Knowing how to use contrast will help you create eye-catching images. Contrast is a tool that photographers use to direct viewer’s attention to their subject. There are two types: Tonal Contrast and Colour Contrast. Tonal Contrast refers to the difference in tones from the lightest tone to the darkest tone, in other words, the difference in tones from white to gray to black. Colour Contrast refers to the way colors interact with each other.  For more examples and further reading on Colour & Contrast, visit: MyPhotoSchool and Photoinf.

You do not need to be a photographer to join into this competition (and if your a student of the art, we’d love to see your ideas and pictures)!  Almost everyone has a camera on their phone, everyone is capable of taking photographs – we’d like to tap into this, get creative with the gear you already have, it’s not about the tech, it’s about YOU!

THE BRIEF:

This week, we want you to use colours and tones in your images, your photo’s could be simple, like our example or impressive like some of the examples in the above links.  As always, there must be some link to World AIDS Day, HIV or Sexual Health.

THE EXAMPLE

 

LASS Panels

LASS Panels

These panels were initially a response to a need felt by volunteers of LASS to visibly commemorate and remember the people they have loved who have died from an AIDS defining illness.  Various ideas were thought of from pigeon holes with photographs in, to a wall hanging that could have ribbons tied to it. These didn’t seem to encompass all that we wanted to represent which was a personal statement and a show of affection to the person who had died, but also a public celebration of each life.

The panels consist of beautiful, colourful and contrasting purses hooked onto a quilted backcloth which is decorated with pearls. Each purse celebrates a person who has died.  The purses are made of any fabric volunteers wish e.g. velvets, rubber, brocade, silk etc.. and can be decorated with badges, beads, buttons, sequins or anything that is special to the volunteer and person they are remembering. Inside is a special memento of that person, something only the person who has made the purse knows about.

THE RULES:

  • Follow the brief
  • Send your best photos by 6PM on Sunday 23rd November 2014 with “Shooting Challenge” in the subject to photography@lass.org.uk and we’ll announce the winner on Monday 24th November as we set the theme for next week’s shooting challenge.
  • Submissions must be your own work.
  • Photos must be taken after the challenge was published; so no existing shots please.
  • Explain briefly in your submission email the equipment, settings, technique used and the story behind the image/images.
  • We will of course credit you so if you have a website or twitter handle, let us know! – If you’re happy for us to use the images elsewhere on our site – do let us know!
  • Save your image as a JPG, and use the following naming convention FirstnameLastnameEasy.jpg
  • Anyone can enter, regardless of camera gear, or location!
  • The most important rule — HAVE FUN!
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Shooting Challenge Winner & Week 2!

Big Phama - Mitchell Dutfield.

Big Phama – Mitchell Dutfield.

Congratulations to Mitchell Dutfield who has won last week’s shooting challenge! His image will be added to the winners of this and the next 6 Shooting Challenges where an overall winner will be decided and a prize given.  ‘Big Phama’ is the idea that there is more financial gain from HIV medicine than there is in research for a cure.  His photo depicts currency, drugs and HIV symbolism ring fenced away from humanity symbolised by planet Earth.  The two cultures are quite separate; those who need HIV drugs (or money to obtain them) in order to survive and those who need people with HIV, in order to satisfy shareholders.  It’s a contrasting view not shared by most people yet the idea stands.

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Stigmata – Zoe Van-De-Velde

Our other entrant is Zoe Van-De-Velde who scored a HIV symbol into her body.  Is she telling us her status?  Is she in solidarity with people living with HIV or could this be a statement that many people wear a red ribbon to be fashionable around World Aids Day?  Would people balk at the idea of bearing the HIV mark directly on their body or would people prefer to obtain a free ribbon which can be cast away at the end of World AIDS Day awareness? – Pain, blood and a semi-permanent marking is the opposite to what most people living with HIV would desire, yet there is a ritualistic component to identity and symbolism.  Combined with the sexiness of this image it’s provocative both for HIV & AIDS awareness and that you can still be sexy, even though you ‘bear the mark’.

Week 2: Negative Space

Last week, we received many questions, “I don’t know what to photograph” & “I don’t understand my camera” & “I’m scared to submit a photograph” & “Please extend the deadline” so this week (and all future weeks) we’ll set the theme and explain a little which we hope will help.  (We’ve even extended the deadline to Sunday evening).  You should know, that you do not need to be a photographer to join into this competition and if your a student of the art, we’d love to see your ideas and pictures)!  Almost everyone has a camera on their phone, everyone is capable of taking photographs – we’d like to tap into this, get creative with the gear you already have, it’s not about the tech, it’s about YOU!

This week, we want you to incorporate negative space within your photograph.  If you’re unsure what that is, it’s quite simply, the space that surrounds an object in a image.  Just as important as that object itself, negative space helps to define the boundaries of positive space and brings balance to a composition.  For more on negative space, see Udemy and Photographymad.

THE BRIEF:

Use negative space when composing your image.

You could photograph a red ribbon in a new and unique way, you could draw attention to an object which you feel is connected to sexual health.  It could be serious, or funny, outrageous or calm.  It’s up to you! – And to make it even easier, expand beyond HIV into sexual health.  Sexual health is about protecting yourself from sexually transmissible infections (STIs) or not having to face an unplanned pregnancy.  It means taking responsibility for your body, your health, your partner’s health and your decisions about sex.

THE EXAMPLE

RobsonTomNegativeSpace

Bedroom Decision – Tom Robson

Clean sheets in the bedroom, fresh, calm and ready for sex.  Not unlike the clean and calm aesthetic found within negative space in photography.  This could have been a wide shot showing chocolates on the pillows, candles burning with desire beside the bed with the lover as he or she reclines on the bed.

Instead, in harsh monochrome, your focus is drawn to the reality of a wrapper on the bed, forcing the decision of safer sex.  The the bed and pillows are hardly apparent and you’re drawn to the condom, over and again begging for it’s use, or begging to be forgotten.

Image details: f/4.5, 1/60 sec ISO: 2000.  In-camera settings modified for sharp monochrome

THE RULES:

  • Follow the brief
  • Send your best photos by 6PM on Sunday 9th November 2014 with “Shooting Challenge” in the subject to photography@lass.org.uk and we’ll announce the winner on Monday 10th November as we set the theme for next week’s shooting challenge.
  • Submissions must be your own work.
  • Photos must be taken after the challenge was published; so no existing shots please.
  • Explain briefly in your submission email the equipment, settings, technique used and the story behind the image/images.
  • We will of course credit you so if you have a website or twitter handle, let us know! – If you’re happy for us to use the images elsewhere on our site – do let us know!
  • Save your image as a JPG, and use the following naming convention FirstnameLastnameEasy.jpg
  • Anyone can enter, regardless of camera gear, or location!
  • The most important rule — HAVE FUN!
STAY UPDATED
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