From the UCLA Newsroom…
To help end the stigma around HIV/AIDS and empower people from around the world who are living with the virus, a new exhibition at the Fowler Museum at UCLA will highlight the stories and images of HIV-positive individuals and their perspectives on the epidemic.
The exhibition is curated by David Gere, UCLA professor of world arts and cultures, who, with photographer Gideon Mendel, co-founded Through Positive Eyes, which is an art project and an exhibition created in collaboration with people living with HIV/AIDS.
Launched in 2007 by UCLA’s Art & Global Health Center, Through Positive Eyes puts cameras in the hands of the people most deeply affected by HIV to create personal photo essays. Entering its 12th year of intensive photography workshops, regional public exhibitions, and now, a touring global exhibition, the endeavor coalesces around one core tenet: a belief that challenging stigma against people living with HIV/AIDS is the most effective method for combating the epidemic.
“Stigma grows out of fear, which prevents people from getting themselves tested and treated,” said Gere, who is director of the UCLA Art & Global Health Center. “By seeing these photographs and reading the accompanying stories, we can overcome fear and recognize our common humanity. That’s what Through Positive Eyes is all about: banishing stigma. It is the most important thing we can do to stop the epidemic.”
The exhibition features photography, video, sculpture, and live storytelling components to reflect the lives of 130 participants from 10 cities where workshops were held: Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro, Johannesburg, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Mumbai, Bangkok, Port-au-Prince, London and Durban. Participants in each city generated a cohesive body of work that is simultaneously expressive and activist — intended to dissolve distrust and fear of people living with HIV/AIDS.