Presenting the real voices


Self-Documentation, Self-Imaging, People Living with AIDS.

Fine Arts Gallery, University Centre, University of Tasmania, until April 5.

Reviewed by Kath Gelber.

The philosophy behind this exhibition, now in Hobart as part of a national tour, is a process of self-empowerment, in which the public hears the voices of people living with AIDS instead of the negative media images.

The works, in visual imagery and text forms, are by people who are HIV positive or have AIDS and present a positive identity to the community. The emphasis is on living, stressing the positive and seeing positive images as a part of survival and empowerment.

The exhibition aims to dispel the myths surrounding AIDS and to combat the discrimination, stigmatisation and isolation of people who are HIV positive or who have AIDS.

According to the coordinator, Kathy Triffit, its common thread is that people living with AIDS don't want to be seen as separated, but are a part of the community and society. "The popular assumption about AIDS is one of an enemy within the social structure. Confined within the category of the victim, a person with HIV/AIDS is deprived of power and control over the actual meaning and dignity of life."