Creative Sick States: AIDS, CANCER, HIV

Research Group: Luiza Kempińska, Paweł Leszkowicz, Zofia nierodzińska, Jacek Zwierzyński

Participants: Amazonki, Szymon Adamczak, Dobrawa Borkała, Vala T. Foltyn | Valentine Tanz, Barbora Kleinhamplová, Bartek Arobal Kociemba, Olga Lewicka, Piotr Macha, Iza Moczarna-Pasiek, Piotr Nathan, Jaśmina Wójcik, Inga Zimprich

Location: Galeria Miejska Arsenał, Poznan

Fragment of the curatorial text:

Illness is a practice, not a metaphor; it is a daily antiretroviral drug intake and a chemotherapy treatment applied periodically, it is a hand rehabilitation with lymphoedema at the Tryton rowing club. Yet, this is, most of all, solidarity that gives strength and unrelenting criticism of a society that grounds itself in the myth of a self-sufficient individual. The creativity of disease doesn’t manifest itself in a creative fever and a discharge of a genius. The Amazons demonstrate that it is quite a normal matter to create habitable worlds. You may start with a shared portion of morning gymnastics, and in the afternoon go out into the streets to manifest your rights.

The exhibition entitled "Creative Sick States: AIDS, CANCER, HIV" aims to cast a spell on reality in which there is no space for the body, in particular, the seropositive body, the one after mastectomy, with abnormal abilities, dependencies, pains, panic attacks, and inflammations. We assume that illness is real, and patients’ problems are social challenges that we need to deal with together. Health is a fiction, an impossible ideal to achieve. We need to normalise and socialise the disease because health has died, or perhaps it has never existed?
We present the art of artists who live with HIV. It is, therefore, an exhibition revealing and breaking the invisibility taboo. It states the seropositivity in the context of breast cancer. This context aims for normalisation of life with HIV so that it ceases to be a stigma. The Amazons have become the heroines of modern times. We would like to look at people who experience life with HIV in a similar humanistic and, to a certain extent, a heroic perspective of everyday life.

"Creative Sick States: AIDS, CANCER, HIV" is an art exhibition, though it also postulates access to knowledge. For that reason, apart from presenting art, we show visual, educational materials about HIV and AIDS, breast and prostate cancer, stoma and HPV. These materials deepen the therapeutic nature of the exposition, which is accompanied by meetings and workshops. Arsenal becomes a meeting point for art, education and care. In an interdisciplinary way, it breaks the boundaries among various areas of care about people and the environment, proving thus that a disease is not a private matter but a political one.

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Translation: Marcin Turski

This is the first of six photos documenting the space of the exhibition “Creative Sick States: AIDS, CANCER, HIV” at the Municipal Gallery Arsenal in Poznan. The photo depicts a room with wooden floor and white walls. On the left is an installation of Inga Zimprich composed of leaflets and books hung on a light purple board. In front of the board is a red wooden rack on which blue paper brochures are hung. To the right is a bookshelf that runs the full width of the wall. Under the shelf are two white cubicle tables with three chairs each. Above the shelf, framed photographs hang on the wall. From this room one can get a view of the second, larger exhibition space. The second photograph shows a close-up of a bookshelf. It features books thematically related to the context of the exhibition, namely the disease, HIV, Aids, sexually transmitted infections and cancer, as well as art catalogues on the subject. Photographs on the wall show statistics and archival, scientific articles on cancer and HIV, as well as portraits of people living with HIV. On the cubic tables below stand red mugs with the words: Positive in the Rainbow, the name of an association supporting people living with HIV in Poland, as well as notebooks and pencils for taking notes. The photograph shows a larger exhibition space with a wooden floor, white walls and a metal structure on the ceiling. In the centre of the photograph is a circular installation by artist Dobrawa Borkała made of rubber transparent strips with speakers attached to it. One can enter it to listen to the sound recorded by the author. To the right is a cube of plasterboard walls, one of which features black and white wallpaper designed by Luiza Kempińska. On the wall on the left is an artwork consisting of a colourful photomosaic made by artist Piotr Nathan. The image shows the archive of Amazon clubs, i.e. clubs created by and for women with breast cancer or who have undergone surgery and mastectomy. The six glass showcases contain chronicles, and behind them are projections with photographs showing Amazons on trips, meetings, workshops, events and conferences. The installation of the artist Barbora Kleinhamplová consist of six television monitors hung on the black tubes connecting the ceiling to the floor. Long black cables run around them. The screens display 3D animations of various body organs, such as the brain, lungs, heart, intestines, etc. The installation is located between the two spaces, and on the wall separating them is a wallpaper with a pattern designed by artist Olga Lewicka. The last photo shows a guided tour through the exhibition by curators and artists. One of the four curators, Zofia nierodzińska, stands in the middle and speaks to the people around her. Behind them is a large-format photographic work by Piotr Nathan, made in collaboration with students from a secondary art school in Poznan.