In planning our presentation for tomorrow’s ‘Vitalizing Movements: Bodies, Environments, and Biopolitical Struggles Conference' in Ottawa, we developed some fun/not so fun facts about POSTERVIRUS and AIDS over the past 3 years of the project (which was launched on the 30th anniversary of the the 'official' discovery of AIDS): 

Since 2011: 

# of artists involved in POSTERVIRUS: 21
# of activists & community folks involved: over 30 
# of cities POSTERVIRUS has gone up in the streets: 7 
# of media articles covering the project: 23
# of galleries that have shown posters: 6 
# of universities using posters as official course material: 3 
# of total posters printed: 22,500

# of estimated new HIV-infections in Canada: 9552
% of HIV+ ppl who have access to treatment in BC: 45%
% of HIV+ ppl who have access to treatment in Quebec: 37%
% of HIV+ ppl who have access to treatment in Ontario: 32%
# of new inmates in federal prisons: 1,000 (6.8% increase) 
# of estimated global AIDS-related deaths: 4.8 million 

# of outraged POSTERVIRUS-related Facebook comments: 199,999,999 (jking)

Avram Finkelstein of Gran Fury and the Silence=Death Collective gives a shout-out to PosterVirus during is talk for the Concordia University Community Lecture Series on HIV/AIDS at the Canadian Centre for Architecture tonight! 

Avram Finkelstein of Gran Fury and the Silence=Death Collective gives a shout-out to PosterVirus during is talk for the Concordia University Community Lecture Series on HIV/AIDS at the Canadian Centre for Architecture tonight! 

2013 POSTERVIRUS Curatorial Statement

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This year PosterVirus struggled to find its footing. We looked critically at ourselves. We aim to understand our own limitations. How can we challenge the logic of the AIDS industry? What can art posters change? What do people care about in the AIDS response? In a movement divided by identity politics, how do we make sure that voices are being heard (and not only the ones with the privilege to shout the loudest)? Are we just talking to each other - what about all the people around the world who are not (or do not want to be) part of the mainstream HIV discourses?

Due to recent films such as How To Survive a Plague, Dallas Buyers Club and United in Anger, hipsters across North America are flocking to get down with the AIDS movement and embracing some of our lost warriors. We are swimming in nostalgia. As we continue to romanticize the past, is the popular imaginary forgetting that AIDS still impacts us today? Has this created the false appearance that AIDS has made its way back on political agendas?

People are still dying. People still don’t have access to treatment. People don’t have housing. People are increasingly criminalized. People still spread ignorance and hate. And yet mainstream AIDS industry and media suggests that stopping all this is as simple as a “cure”. A simple pill to make AIDS go away.

This year we focused on issues of the prison industrial complex, religion, the consequences of being labelled “risky”, the failure of condoms, racism, countering individualization, and challenging heteronormative assumptions. We want to problematize language, poke holes in the way that terms are used and continue hard discussions. We worked with artists Scott Treleavan, Natalie Wood, JJ Levine, Alexis Mitchell, Vincent Chevalier, Ian Bradley-Perrin, Ted Kerr and Chris Jones.

We want to push for open hearts, open arms, open ears, and open thoughts. We want to be reflective and critical about our role in the AIDS response. We call for people to announce their fears and push for complex conversations. We are sick to death of death - we should be focusing on life. This project continues in attempting to bring our communities together to support and love one another… AIDS ACTION NOW!

AS LONG AS THERE ARE PRISONS, THERE WILL BE AIDS

Alexis Mitchell

I began to think about my project for Poster Virus through the lens of disclosure - about what it means for different bodies to have to speak and the precarity of speaking out when bodies are already in danger. For me, this culminates in the space of the prison, where those left most vulnerable through acts of disclosure - speaking out and/or staying silent, become embodied in one space/place. Because of this, I use the body of a white, male subject building his fortress in the sand in conjunction with the slogan ” As long as there are prisons, there will be AIDS” in order to point to the ways that a homonormative gay agenda further silences, marginalizes and hides behind those consistently affected by the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC).

This sentiment comes from Dean Spade about the shared experiences of Trans people (specifically trans women of colour) and people living with HIV within the PIC. It is at this moment of confluence, between the fears and real ramifications of disclosing one’s status and disclosing one’s assigned gender that becomes unavoidable in thinking about who is incarcerated and who has access to the constant construction and renegotiation of state power.

In noting the ways these bodies are continuously left out, there is a real need to point to the structures which continuously take them in, and ask what kinds of systems and experiences do prisons uphold and whether there is a possibility of dismantling them with the prison still standing.

LOOK AFTER EACH OTHER

LOOK AFTER EACH OTHER
Scott Treleaven
The rough edged look of the poster is an intentional strategy: I always find that the trace of an actual hand-drawn element in posters or signage makes a message far more immediate and intimate. I wanted to come up with something simple, striking, and evocative of the kind of imagery that’s always caught my attention (HomoCult, Gran Fury, Queer Action Figures, etc). The pos/neg imagery was an obvious choice for me as all of my current work deals with ideas of interconnectivity, continuity, and perception. As constructs, the symbols are only useful as visual shorthand and they deliberately fall apart, or vanish, at the edge of the page. As for the text - the message is simple. It’s a broad-based but heartfelt slogan meant to imply a number of issues around health, awareness, community, charity, and solidarity. Queers, especially younger ones, seem to be fatigued when it comes to AIDS awareness, and I think this is largely due to the awful, exclusionary push towards “normalizing” queer culture. The message, to look after each other, is always worth reiterating. We’ve always watched out for one another when no one else would. And this message is becoming more important than ever.

LOOK AFTER EACH OTHER

Scott Treleaven

The rough edged look of the poster is an intentional strategy: I always find that the trace of an actual hand-drawn element in posters or signage makes a message far more immediate and intimate. I wanted to come up with something simple, striking, and evocative of the kind of imagery that’s always caught my attention (HomoCult, Gran Fury, Queer Action Figures, etc). The pos/neg imagery was an obvious choice for me as all of my current work deals with ideas of interconnectivity, continuity, and perception. As constructs, the symbols are only useful as visual shorthand and they deliberately fall apart, or vanish, at the edge of the page. As for the text - the message is simple. It’s a broad-based but heartfelt slogan meant to imply a number of issues around health, awareness, community, charity, and solidarity. Queers, especially younger ones, seem to be fatigued when it comes to AIDS awareness, and I think this is largely due to the awful, exclusionary push towards “normalizing” queer culture. The message, to look after each other, is always worth reiterating. We’ve always watched out for one another when no one else would. And this message is becoming more important than ever.

BAREBACKING… EVERYBODY DOES IT

BAREBACKING… EVERYBODY DOES ITJJ LevineThe term “barebacking” is most commonly associated with gay men engaging in unprotected sex. This practice is controversial and often stigmatized in both queer and mainstream discourses. Whereas fucking without a barrier is normalized in most other contexts, it is vilified when practiced among members of marginalized groups, especially gay men. In other words, virtually identical sexual practices to what is considered barebacking are either overlooked or applauded among dominant groups.This portrait of what initially appears to be a happy, pregnant heterosexual couple, overlaid by the phrase “Everybody Does It,” is intended to encourage the viewer to consider their perceptions of what are “appropriate” sexual practices versus what are “irresponsible” sex acts. I am suggesting that these practices are one and the same. In this image we see one possible repercussion of unprotected sex. Linking identity with a person’s level of sexual risk, in particular their ability to contract HIV, is dangerous and misguided, as it not only fosters discrimination, but also gives many heterosexuals a false sense that their identity somehow exempts them from becoming HIV positive.The viewer, if they examine the poster more closely, may recognize that the photograph used here is comprised of one single model, portraying both pregnant woman and expectant father-to-be. As the model’s gender is impossible to ascertain from this image, the viewer doesn’t know what kind of body they are reserving judgment from—what kind of body is being spared the scrutiny allotted to gay male sex acts and sexuality.This poster is intended to contribute to a visual culture or imagery that exists in opposition to the moralistic approach to sex ed that many well-intentioned public health ad campaigns have historically employed. This poster is not intended to valorize unprotected sex; rather, it serves to encourage everyone to expand their definition of barebacking to encompass all unprotected sex acts—and examine the possible ensuing outcomes—carried out by all kinds of bodies, genders, and sexualities.

BAREBACKING… EVERYBODY DOES IT
JJ Levine

The term “barebacking” is most commonly associated with gay men engaging in unprotected sex. This practice is controversial and often stigmatized in both queer and mainstream discourses. Whereas fucking without a barrier is normalized in most other contexts, it is vilified when practiced among members of marginalized groups, especially gay men. In other words, virtually identical sexual practices to what is considered barebacking are either overlooked or applauded among dominant groups.

This portrait of what initially appears to be a happy, pregnant heterosexual couple, overlaid by the phrase “Everybody Does It,” is intended to encourage the viewer to consider their perceptions of what are “appropriate” sexual practices versus what are “irresponsible” sex acts. I am suggesting that these practices are one and the same. In this image we see one possible repercussion of unprotected sex. Linking identity with a person’s level of sexual risk, in particular their ability to contract HIV, is dangerous and misguided, as it not only fosters discrimination, but also gives many heterosexuals a false sense that their identity somehow exempts them from becoming HIV positive.

The viewer, if they examine the poster more closely, may recognize that the photograph used here is comprised of one single model, portraying both pregnant woman and expectant father-to-be. As the model’s gender is impossible to ascertain from this image, the viewer doesn’t know what kind of body they are reserving judgment from—what kind of body is being spared the scrutiny allotted to gay male sex acts and sexuality.

This poster is intended to contribute to a visual culture or imagery that exists in opposition to the moralistic approach to sex ed that many well-intentioned public health ad campaigns have historically employed. This poster is not intended to valorize unprotected sex; rather, it serves to encourage everyone to expand their definition of barebacking to encompass all unprotected sex acts—and examine the possible ensuing outcomes—carried out by all kinds of bodies, genders, and sexualities.

INFLAMED

RELIGION CAN’T PROTECT YOU