In the summer of 2020, Positive East approached 14 artists, both local and international, whose works are rooted in tackling social injustice, championing LGBTQ+ equality and fighting HIV stigma, to create or choose an image that they felt represented the mission of the Charity. We wanted to explore the intersection between HIV activism and visual artistry; demonstrating how artistic expression has helped shape the cultural and political response to HIV, from the pandemic’s origins in 1981 to the present day.
During this period, artists’ responses to HIV have been diverse – reflecting the experiences of people and communities living with HIV, both intimate and collective. Creative and activist engagements with HIV have highlighted and strengthened urgent political and social struggles and as prevention and treatment developed, to celebrating advancements and hope.
Through this collaboration, we wish to make a small but meaningful contribution to the dialogue between HIV and cultural expression, while raising awareness of Positive East’s mission to improve the quality of life of individuals and communities affected by HIV whilst we live under the shadow of yet another global pandemic – COVID-19.
The 14 artists involved in this project all reflect the ethos of our charity and the diversity of the communities we support. All works presented are original commissions or were selected especially for this project. They include photography, illustration, graphic design, spoken word, photomontage, and painting.
About Positive East
Working throughout East London, Positive East is a community-led HIV charity that has been at the forefront of HIV service and care for 30 years. Rooted in community collaboration, our projects and programmes are accessed by nearly 4,000 people per year. These include: Re:Assure Women’s Project (London’s only project for HIV positive female asylum seekers), community-specific support groups, individual peer support, skills-building workshops, volunteering opportunities, free rapid HIV/STI testing; counselling, information and advice around housing, welfare and immigration, and complementary therapies including yoga and mindfulness.
For nearly three decades, Positive East has borne witness to significant medical, social and political advancements; new HIV diagnosis are down, we've achieved the UNAIDS target of 90-90-90 and U=U and PrEP’s efficacy are scientific statements of fact. However, we know that not all people and not all communities are benefiting. HIV stigma is still all too common, with myths and misconceptions often guiding the narrative. 35,000,000 people around the world (50,000 in London) are currently living with HIV and we have mourned the loss of tens of millions of people worldwide whose fight against HIV ended too soon.
We are not done yet.
100% of the proceeds raised through this project will directly support our HIV support and prevention services.
Thank you to everyone who has made this project possible.
Lubaina Himid, Hatty Carman, Sunil Gupta, John Walter, Linder, Wednesday Holmes, Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley, Jack Hughes, AA Bronson/General Idea, Wolfgang Tillmans, Fredrik Andersson, Alex Mein, Kai Isaiah Jamal, Joy Yamusangie, Sinuo Guo, Mark Bloomfield, Tom Mehrtens and Seamus McCormack.