A touring exhibition of work by southern African artists responding to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in an age of antiretroviral treatment (A.R.T.)
A MAKE ART/STOP AIDS Initiative
A program of the UCLA Art & Global Health Center
The A.R.T. Show debuted in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa on World AIDS Day, December 1, 2011. It toured throughout southern Africa, beginning with five South African venues in Durban, Cape Town, and Johannesburg, as well as additional venues in Malawi.
In July 2012, the exhibition was featured in Washington, D.C. at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival and at the XIX International AIDS Conference.
The A.R.T. Cabinet
The portable centerpiece of The A.R.T. Show is a fold-out trunk created in partnership with Xavier Clarisse, a furniture designer living in Durban, who specializes in pop-up interactive artwork. Drawing inspiration from the sixteenth century cabinet of curiosities, a precursor to the modern museum, the trunk splits into three legs, hinging outward, featuring various surfaces, shelves, vessels, and drawers for display. A dozen new works have been commissioned especially for the trunk, allowing for easy transport and the possibility of display at the conference site as well as in galleries and public spaces, museums and shopping malls. In this way, the exhibition expands beyond traditional art museums and galleries, reaching people from all walks of life.
Photographic prints on film
Anjargolian, an Armenian resident of Los Angeles, created a compelling photographic installation in South Africa depicting medical professionals and people living with HIV and AIDS, all wearing medical masks. These masks are an important mechanism of protection, to prevent transmission of bacterial infection, but they also serve to conceal the identities of the wearers and evoke images of criminals and bandits. Anjargolian’s striking photos are printed on light fabric scrims and are hung as banners.
Pills and wire
A representation of the number of pills one person has to take over six months in order to simply stay alive.
Rubber and found objects
Part of a set of virus representations placed in The A.R.T. Cabinet drawers. The viruses were made in community workshops around Johannesburg.
C-print for cabinet door
Kama’s self-portraiture in the Ze print conveys a presence that is both assertive and vulnerable. Central to these images is the use of medication as body adornment.
Embroidery and beads
A collective of a hundred women living in the small village of Hamburg on the Eastern Cape created a new version of Picasso’s Guernica to express their horror at the lack of consistent access to antiretroviral therapy in their community. Building on their previous large-scale works, such as the Keiskamma Altarpiece (displayed in Toronto for the 2006 World AIDS Conference), they use local techniques of embroidery and beadwork to argue their point.
Beads and cloth
Bead workers have devised a tower of small dolls to represent the enormous number of AIDS orphans in South Africa and other African nations experiencing high death rates over the past decades. The dolls are stacked in rows to create a several-foot-high tower that cannot be ignored as it rises toward the ceiling with cheery foreboding.