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Visual AIDS is excited to share PosterVirus' latest posters, created for Day With(out) Art 2016. See the five posters by Kia Labeija, Shan Kelley, Brendan Fernandes, Jessica Karuhanga, and FASTWÜRMS above, and read the PosterVirus statement below. 

PosterVirus pressed pause. To breathe. To reflect. To collect our strength. To analyze the breadth of work made for the Day With(out) Art from 2011 to 2013. We launched the project on the 30th anniversary of the ‘official’ discovery of AIDS. Since then, activist/art posters for the affinity group of AIDS ACTION NOW! have been made by 20+ artists and 30+ activists on HIV and Hepatitis C related issues such as incarceration, sexual autonomy, sex work, history, mental health, criminalization, harm reduction and drug liberation, poverty, stigma, homophobia and racism. Issues requiring complexity, depth, and an intersectional analysis. The messages and images have continued to spark dialogue that leads to changes in the ways we think about, and talk about the two viruses.

This year we look to love, memory, loss, and hope… or false hope. In 2016, PosterVirus worked with artists Kia Labeija, Jessica Karuhanga, Shan Kelley, FASTWÜRMS and Brendan Fernandes. Kia’s poster addresses her power in being an HIV-positive woman who has been rendered no longer infectious through the use of HIV treatment, a new identity that is changing our lives as people living with HIV. Jessica’s poster looks to her family’s Ugandan heritage and the poetics of space, distance and memory, where she presents a text message dialogue between herself and her father about her aunt who died of AIDS. Shan's poster looks at apathy through the culture of memorial, and the endless imperative to present publicly as healthy, happy and compliant. FASTWÜRMS poster is a message of universal love and acceptance intervening in a seemingly unending culture of stigma and discrimination. And Brendan’s poster challenges the new biomedical mediated HIV-negative self, with the unquestioning heralding of PrEP as a panacea in the response.

Collectively these works highlight the complexities facing our lives. We’ve been in a cycle. Being built up to be torn down. Broken down to be built up. Endless confusion. Self-assured. Self-doubt. We want to step out of this cycle. Institutions that govern our lives continue to perpetuate fear of HIV and Hepatitis C. Fear that maintains in our communities, health care providers, families and chosen families, and in our own conception of ourselves. But we know different. We know that collectively we can make it stop.

This year when you light a candle for our friends who have passed from AIDS, and for us who are still alive, let the flame burn bright. And then burn it all down.

Kia LaBeija

Shan Kelley