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SPAINEight artists explore the stigma of Aids at the Fundació Miró

Han Nefkens, founder of ArtAids, produces the exhibition You Are Not Alone

Roberta Bosco, Barcelona

The reproduction of the Barberini Faun, the masterpiece of Greek art restored by Bellini, which revels in its brazen pose and homoerotic air, emerges majestically from the shadows. A huge music-hall-style neon sign reading AIDS is good business for some casts a glow on the sleeping faun, which is receiving a blood transfusion through its muscular arm. Elmgreen & Dragset’s New Blood is one of the most visually striking pieces in You Are Not Alone, an exhibition organised by the ArtAids Foundation which opens at the Fundació Miró on Thursday to mark the thirtieth anniversary of the discovery of HIV. It is on until 8 September.

“It’s not just the illness that’s frightening but also the rejection, exclusion and stigma that comes with it. The worst thing is the fear of being alone”, says Barcelona-based Dutch collector Han Nefkens, founder of ArtAids, who found out he had the virus in 1987. After a painful process, which he describes in his book Borrowed Time: Notes on a Recovered Life, he decided to fight the illness through art. Unlike most collectors, however, he doesn’t dream of opening his own space to house the collection he is building up by commissioning works that explore Aids-related issues from different perspectives using different media. “I prefer to work with other institutions and create joint projects”, he explains.

The exhibition is curated by Hilde Teerlinck, director of the French art centre FRAC Nord-Pas de Calais and a regular collaborator with Nefkens – together they have produced over 130 works linked to Aids. This time she commissioned eight pieces from artists who don’t usually work on this subject. One of these new works is Matthew Darbyshire’s You Are Not Alone, which explores the origin of this stigma through a mock information stand, which also screens videos by Córdoba artist Pepe Espaliú, who died of Aids in 1993 at the age of only 38.

“When the illness was found to be so virulent, very aggressive prevention campaigns were launched which laid the foundations for fear, condemnation and marginalisation”, Darbyshire says. Discrimination against homosexuals in the former Soviet bloc is the subject of Deimantas Narkevičius’s film, a damning indictment of the homophobic law passed by the Lithuanian parliament in 2009. The fear of infection and the wave of panic that swept across France in the 1980s following the infected-blood scandal is embodied in Latifa Echakhch’s installation: a brick wall that falls apart before visitors’ eyes.

Some pieces are highly symbolic, such as Greek artist Christodoulos Panayiotou’s (now forever) folded theatre curtain, and the life-size reproduction of the flame of the Statue of Liberty, smashed and strewn across the floor by Vietnamese artist Danh Vo. Others are more narrative, such as David Goldblatt’s series In the Time of Aids and the video by Chilean artist Lorena Zilleruelo, which uses the story of a woman infected by her male partner to blur fact and fiction in a story of love and death told to the rhythm of tango.

[Caption]

Untitled (from the series Access for All) by Shirin Neshat

El país 29/06/2011