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People Living with HIV and the Art Community come together to Reduce Stigma

UN and Zeshan Foundation co-support launching of the Red Scarf

Beijing, China (28 November, 2008) / — The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UNICEF and the Zeshan Foundation (Hong Kong) co-sponsored an AIDS and multimedia exhibit and reception hosted by the Yuanfen New Media Art Space in Dashanzi (798 Art District). The exhibit features five large; hand knitted and decorated red scarves, videos and animation pieces all representing AIDS affected populations - women, young people, farmers, minorities and men who have sex with men (MSM).

The Red Scarf Project and multimedia exhibition communicate one simple truth - "Our lives are like the yarn of the scarf, all knitted together - not one less."

"Despite progress in recent years, there remains an urgent need to strengthen the general population's knowledge, awareness, and understanding of HIV and those living with the virus," said Subinay Nandy, UNDP Country Director in China.

"The Art community, working a long side woman, men and young people living with HIV, are in a perfect position to facilitate creative development and sustained distribution of HIV anti stigma images and messages."

This exhibit marked the launch of the Dandelion Online Support Network for Women living with HIV 'Red Scarf Project', a perpetual living work in progress which aims to help reduce stigma associated with HIV and AIDS. The scarf project symbolizes solidarity with those living with HIV and is support by the AIDS Relief Fund for China.

In addition to the red scarves, the multimedia exhibit also featured the following:

"The Scarf" mini documentary - This 10 minute short film documents the making of the scarves through the lives of individuals living with HIV. Commissioned by UNDP and shot in five provinces over a period of two weeks, "The Scarf" tells the story of five affected populations: women, farmers, children, minorities, and men who have sex with men (MSM). The film was conceived and directed by San Francisco based documentary film maker Humphrey Wou.

Seven Video Slide Shows - These video slide shows feature the five groups contributing to the Red Scarf and depict the "positive lives" of people living with HIV from around China through their own eyes.

Animation pieces - These imaginative graphic and computer designed animation pieces were designed and produced by animation students from the Communication University of China and the Beijing Film Academy.

"Artists in many societies recognize that they have a responsibility to reach out into the community and, using their artistic talents, improve the lives of others," commented David Ben Kay, Yuanfen New Media Art Space Curator.

"Working with those who are stigmatized by society, the artist plays a dual role: first, through his own art, he can act as the medium to communicate to a larger audience the pains and sorrows and the joys and accomplishments of those too afraid or too weak to speak out; second, the artist can also act as an inspiration - to help those with a message to find their own voices."

On Saturday, November 29th, the 'Red Scarf Project' exhibit will travel to Shanghai to participate in the 'Truth is a Virus: 2008 2nd Annual Touch Without Danger' Contemporary Art Exhibition at the River South Art Centre with Marie Stopes International China.

"The 'Truth Without Virus' exhibition is an excellent demonstration of the powerful impact collaborations between artists and charities can have on the response to AIDS," stated Lily Liu, Director of Marie Stopes International China. "The artworks displayed, provide a unique opportunity to highlight the stigma facing PLHIV by challenging our conceptions of the 'Virus'.

This exhibition is the second collaboration between Marie Stopes International and independent contemporary art curator Zoe Zhang Bing. Zoe was first inspired to hold a charity exhibition benefiting AIDS prevention when she discovered that much of what she knew about AIDS was inaccurate, fueled by rumor rather than truth. She became intent on spreading the truth about AIDS.

UNDP, UNAIDS, the Zeshan Foundation and Marie Stopes International China are major supporters of the 'Truth is a Virus: 2008 exhibition in Shanghai.

  • Edmund Settle, HIV programme specialist, UNDP China
    +86-10 8532-0775 or [email protected]

    Diana Gao, HIV programme associate, UNDP China
    +86-10 8532-0776

    David Ben Kay, Curator, Yuanfen New Media Art Space
    +86 13701210866 or [email protected]

    Lily Liu, County Representative, Marie Stopes China
    +86-10 8485-4988 or [email protected]

This press release has been syndicated from Xinwengao, who is responsible for the content distributed via its newswire.