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TRANSMISSIONS





TRANSMISSIONS is available with English, Spanish, French, Greek, Japanese, Turkish, and Polish subtitles. Click the “CC” button to select another language.

TRANSMISSIONS is also available to view as a continuous program—click here for English, or here for additional languages.

Las Indetectables, Me Cuido



Me Cuido (I take care of myself/I’m careful) questions the relationship between colonial paradigms of health, religious guilt, and the stigmatization of people living with HIV in the context of Chile’s capitalist and neoliberal regime.

About the artists
Las Indetectables is a Chilean band led by Sofía Devenir and Noelia Shalá. With their friends and collaborators Macarena Rodríguez and Osvaldo Guzmán, they address topics such as HIV/AIDS, hate crimes, the experiences of sex workers and travesti, and the contradictions that occur when marginalized subjects stage political interventions in the street or on public transit.

See more from Las Indetectables on Instagram and on the Visual AIDS Artist Registry.

Sofía Devenir: Instagram | Facebook
Noelia Shalá: Instagram | Facebook
Osvaldo Guzmán: Instagram | Facebook

Additional context
Travesti is a gender term used in Latin American countries that cannot be simply translated into English. It generally refers to femme gender expression, but encompasses a broader range of experiences and identities than the English word “transgender.” Initially a pejorative term, it has been reclaimed by the travesti community. To learn more, see the travesti Wikipedia article here.

Claudia Rodríguez is another travesti activist and poet working in Chile. Read an article about her work by Joseph Pierce (eng | esp) or hear Claudia speak about her work in this video by Presentes LGTB (in Spanish, auto-generated subtitles available).

Two icons of queer culture in Chile are the artist and performer Hija de Perra (1980–2014) and the writer Pedro Lemebel (1952–2015). Read more about Hija de Perra in this interview with her mother (eng | esp) or on Wikipedia (eng | esp). Two short stories by Pedro Lemebel were recently translated and posted by the LA Review of Books. More of his writing is available in Spanish here, and there is also a wealth of information about his life and work on Wikipedia (eng | esp).

For another perspective on trans identity and HIV in South America, read “Fingerprints, Unfinished,” a conversation between Brazilian artist Mavi Veloso and Visual AIDS Artist Member Nicholas D’Avella in On Curating 42, edited by Theodore Kerr.




Lucía Egaña Rojas, Female Disappearance Syndrome



Lucía Egaña Rojas challenges gendered representations of HIV and AIDS, investigating what Lina Meruane has termed “female disappearance syndrome”—the erasure of women living with HIV from conversations about the epidemic.

About the artist
Lucía Egaña Rojas is a Chilean artist who currently lives in Barcelona. Her work problematizes the relationship between high and low culture, high-tech and low-fi, public and private space, and the relationship between the global north and south. She studied visual arts in Chile and completed a master's degree in creative documentary and a PhD in post-pornography in Spain. She is currently teaching at the Independent Studies Program of the Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona while developing two research projects and producing embroidery, videos, and performances.

Website | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

Additional context

The Chilean writer and professor Lina Meruane coined the phrase “female disappearance syndrome” in her book Viral Voyages: Tracing AIDS in Latin America, which examines literary representations of AIDS in Latin America.

Hear more from Lina Meruane in episode 1 of THE WHOLE WORLD IS WATCHING, a web series produced by J Triangular, Visual AIDS’ 2019 Curatorial Resident.

Lucía’s video is based on research by María Julieta Obiols on the experiences of women living with HIV in Argentina. To read more about these testimonies, see Obiols’ research here or Marta Dillon’s 2004 book Vivir con virus: Relatos de la vida cotidana (both available in Spanish only).  




Charan Singh, They Called it Love, But Was it Love?



They Called it Love, But Was it Love? depicts scenes from the lives of kothis living in India. Reduced to a “risk group” by public health campaigns and misunderstood through Western notions of gender and sexuality, these protagonists have real lives and inhabit unique worlds with their own quests for fulfilment and love.

About the artist
Charan Singh lives and works in New Delhi and London. Singh’s art practice is informed by HIV/AIDS work and community activism in India. He is a candidate for a practice-led PhD at the Royal College of Art, London. In 2016, he earned a Magnum/Photo London award for his portrait series “Kothis, Hijras, Giriyas and Others,” which was featured in the 2017 Photoworks Annual. He was a 2017 resident at the Fire Island Artist Residency. His latest book and exhibition (with Sunil Gupta), “Delhi: Communities of Belonging” was published by The New Press 2016 and exhibited at SepiaEye, New York in 2017. A later iteration, “Dissent and Desire” was shown at the Contemporary Art Museum Houston, 2018 and also at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in Kochi, India in 2018–19. 

Website | Instagram


Additional context
In the introduction to his ongoing portrait series Kothis, Hijras, Giriyas and Others, Charan Singh defines the words kothi, hijra, and giriya as “indigenous terms used by queer working class and transgendered people in their own dialect to define their different and particular sexual identities.”

In India, public health campaigns are often built around imported concepts like “MSM” (men who have sex with men), which fail to recognize the nuances and specificity of identities like kothi.

Charan explains: “Identity terms such as kothi only appeared in queer representational discourse in India after the arrival of HIV/AIDS prevention programmes that submerged a range of identities into the category MSM. The acronym MSM was coined in the early nineties, almost at same time as the emergence of contemporary queer theory in the West and the first queer protests in India. A population which was outside the lesbian and gay framework, MSM implicitly referred to poor men of colour throughout HIV programmes in developing countries. In India, for example, these programmes also brought hope and the promise of a dream for equality, empowerment and access to ‘safe spaces’. However, these programmes had very limited venues for self-expression, as they tended to rely on predetermined criteria for who their beneficiaries were. For numerous reasons, one often felt silenced in those spaces and unable to challenge such stereotypes.”

For more, read Charan’s text “Among Four Friends: Conversations Before and in a Hospital Waiting Room” in On Curating 42, edited by Theodore Kerr.




George Stanley Nsamba, Finding Purpose




Finding Purpose reflects on the experience of producing a film about the lives of teens born with HIV in Uganda and the pervasive stigma that surrounded the project.

About the artist
George Stanley Nsamba is a filmmaker, spoken word artist, and human rights activist. In 2013, he founded The Ghetto Film Project to mentor and train youth in socially-engaged film production. Nsamba's films Time Irreversible (2017), The Dummy Team (2016), Silent Depression (2015), and Crafts: The Value of Life (2015) have screened throughout Africa and the United States.

WebsiteInstagram


Additional context
First Generation Positive, the project George Stanley reflects upon in this video, will be released in 2021. It will be available at nesmotionmedia.com

George Stanley Nsamba’s 2016 film The Dummy Team offers another perspective on HIV-related film production in Uganda.

Hear from Anna Morena, a young trans activist organizing for HIV and sexual health services in central Uganda, in this story from UNAIDS.

Uganda Young Positives is a membership group for young people living with HIV in Uganda. Read how they are responding to COVID-19 and learn more about their work here.

For a different perspective on stigma from within the United States, view I’m Still Me (2019), a portrait of Sian Green created by Iman Shervington for Day With(out) Art 2019.




Jorge Bordello, Ministry of Health



Ministry of Health employs the aesthetics of horror movies and silent film to evoke the adverse effects of pharmaceuticals on four men living with HIV in the city of Tlaxcala, Mexico

About the artist
Jorge Bordello is interested in the wrinkles between document and fiction, the family archive and the national history, the montage of the body and public life. He has a degree in International Relations from the Tecnológico de Monterrey (ITESM) and studied Library Sciences at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). He was elected to study at the National Photo Library System and the Image Center at Mexico City, and has been a beneficiary of the Cultural Development and Co-Investment Program (FONCA 2011), Young Creators Grant (FONCA 2016), and the Municipal and Community Cultures Support Program (PACMyC 2015). His work has been a part of festivals such as ULTRAcinema, FICUNAM, The International Postporn Festival and Cinemaissí: Latinamerican Film Festival. 

Website | Instagram

Additional context
Unlike the United States, Mexico’s public healthcare system provides medication for people living with HIV free-of-charge. The federal government purchases medicine in bulk from pharmaceutical companies, who are often able to negotiate exclusive agreements that limit the types of medication that the country is able to provide. The result is that people living with HIV are given a one-size-fits-all treatment, and are sometimes even prescribed obsolete and ineffective medications. There are over 40 medications currently approved for HIV treatment internationally, meant to be prescribed according to factors such as viral load and other health conditions. Taking the wrong medication can cause serious side-effects or lead to negative health outcomes.

In 2019, Mexico changed the way that it purchases pharmaceuticals and began defunding community-based healthcare centers under the guise of fighting corruption. The switch caused serious delays in distributing medicine, leaving hundreds of people without their daily HIV treatment. Drug shortages have continued to be an issue as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

Read an open letter by scientists, doctors, and activists in Mexico calling for a paradigm shift in HIV/AIDS care in Mexico.

Learn more about the 40+ medications currently approved for HIV treatment at POZ.com.




Gevi Dimitrakopoulou, This is Right: Zak, Life and After



This is Right: Zak, Life and After is a portrait of Zak Kostopoulos, a well-known queer AIDS activist who was publicly lynched to death in Athens in 2018. Zak's chosen family and community highlight Zak's activist life and the response that his murder has galvanized.

About the artist
Gevi Dimitrakopoulou is a feminist visual artist and filmmaker based in Athens, Greece. Her films primarily focus on gender identity, sexuality, queerness and the political inequalities of minorities. She is a published media scholar writing and speaking on technology and culture. She holds degrees in economics, film studies, and digital media. 

Instagram | Vimeo


Additional context
Zak Kostopoulos was a drag performer, a writer, and an activist. His YouTube channel contains footage of him performing, speaking about his experience as a person living with HIV, and more.

Over the last decade, far-right political groups like Golden Dawn have grown throughout Greece, openly attacking refugees, immigrants, and political activists and espousing ultranationalist beliefs. Despite this, Athens’ powerful community of queer artists and activists is thriving. Learn more in this piece by Alex King, and check out the Athens Museum of Queer Arts at amoqa.net or on Facebook.

Zak’s family commissioned the research group Forensic Architecture to investigate his killing. Read more about their research here (note: videos contain graphic violence).

Read press coverage of the Justice for Zak protest march on September 21, 2019, a year after Zak’s killing.




TRANSMISSIONS Panel Discussion



On November 30, 2020, Visual AIDS hosted an online discussion between the artists of TRANSMISSIONS: Jorge Bordello, Gevi Dimitrakopoulou, George Stanley Nsamba, Lucía Egaña Rojas, Charan Singh, and Sofía Devenir, Noelia Shalá and Osvaldo Guzmán of Las Indetectables.

The conversation was moderated by Jih-Fei Cheng (Assistant Professor, Scripps College) and Blake Paskal (Programs Associate, Visual AIDS). The recording is available with English and Spanish subtitles.

The conversation was presented in partnership with the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Studio Museum in Harlem, and The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA).