Multimedia exhibition ENUF Already seeks to curb anti-HIV stigma
ENUF Already: Voices of ENUF is a multimedia exhibition taking place at Federation Square during the AIDS 2014 Conference. Tim Hunter catches up with curator Brenton Geyer to find out more.
ENUF, Living Positive’s anti-HIV stigma awareness campaign, has been running for two years and its primary focus has been AIDS 2014 – so it’s no surprise that this exhibition, ENUF Already: Voices of ENUF, is taking place in the Atrium at Federation Square as part of the conference’s cultural program.
“It was designed to gather voices and experiences of individuals who are faced with stigma and discrimination due to HIV,” says the exhibition’s curator, Brenton Geyer. “We have gathered 70 stories and garnered support from over 2,000 people who have signed our pledge. The exhibition is one of the outcomes of the campaign and a public demonstration of anti-HIV stigma through retelling stories from those individuals through multimedia.”
Geyer appointed acclaimed photographer and video artist Alexander Edwards as creative director and principal artist, who has volunteered his time and talent, and together they’ve selected 30 stories to be told in the exhibition. It’s a project that Geyer, who is HIV-positive himself, feels strongly about. “I didn’t connect with any HIV education or campaigns that were being run until I saw the ENUF campaign. I recognised it as being very powerful, very direct and very relevant not only to me but to what’s happening today with HIV.”
After helping Living Positive with their funding applications for the exhibition, Geyer was asked to curate it. “As it was something close to my heart, for the first time in my career I took on the role of curator because I saw the value of the outcome,” he says. “Even I, as someone who lives in the gay bubble and is cushioned from the broader community, faces HIV stigma, and if I have to face discrimination within my own community, imagine those people that don’t have the back-up of the gay community and its friendship and support.
“We’re lucky we live in a world where living with HIV is normal, but there’s a bigger world out there where it’s not normal, and there’s stigma and discrimination. HIV is now a condition that people live with, and the troublesome thing is they have to live with the stigma around the virus. The aim of ENUF is to fight that stigma, and cause people to have no issue with being tested or being positive.”
For Geyer, putting Voices of ENUF in a small private gallery was never really an option, and Federation Square made sense, given its role as a cultural hub for the conference. “The choice of the venue was critical to the success of the exhibition,” he says. “We chose a major public space because to have the desired impact the exhibition needs to be put in front of as many people in the broader community as possible. Having access to the Atrium will achieve that.”
Giving a voice for anti-stigma is important for Geyer, and for that reason he selected positive stories. “I was looking for positive affirmations of declaring your status. I wasn’t looking for the problems associated with it, we all know those, but the voices I was looking for were to provide the impetus for other people to be comfortable with talking about their status, a call to action. I believe it will be a strong, emotional experience for people going through the exhibition.
“This is about living,” says Geyer. “When I worked on the Candlelight Vigil and Quilt committees back in the 90s, it was all about death and memorials. But now as much as we remember the dead, we support the living.”
The exhibition is also included in the Midwinta program, featuring as part of the Nite Arts program on Wednesday, July 23 and then will travel the country. It will have a life beyond AIDS 2014 and also play a part in AIDS Awareness Week and World AIDS Day, and Geyer will continue to be involved. “ENUF will continue to address stigma and discrimination as long as it needs to,” he says.
“The campaign speaks to me, and is related to my experiences, which is why I was thrilled when I saw it. It provided me with a light bulb moment, and I needed to be a part of it. I have the ability to give a voice to the campaign for those who are unable to do that themselves.”
ENUF Already: Voices of ENUF will be on display in the Atrium at Federation Square from July 19-24, 2014. For more information go to enuf.org.au
Pic cap All images by Alexander Edwards.