Going Viral is the name of the first exhibition cycle after my diagnosis. It reflects the initial emotional challenges spanning over two years. By using abstracted photography I try to engage the viewer in showing what an HIV infection feels like. What goes on in the mind, the body and on an emotional level – from feeling poisonous, doubt and self loathing, to reflecting on my own behavior. By splitting up the themes into chapters, I try to draw the audience into the contradictions I had felt myself.
When do I tell her?
The challenge of confessing my HIV status is continuous company. When is the right time to tell someone about my positive status? Especially when there are sexual implications?
This question has followed me ever since my diagnosis.
Especially in the first years this question presented a massive challenge, resulting in a comparison and confrontation to my life before and after the virus.
I can have unprotected sex without harming my partner. I can have children without transmitting the virus. Yet stigmas persist. Society still sees me as a threat. And my mind failed to acknowledge facts for years.
These images came from this challenging comparison, blurring my past and the desire I had but
couldn’t follow through upon.
Reviewing and recapturing, my life as a „negative“ continues to pop its head into my life as a „positive“. Wearing a mask, my search for the artistic identity continues – trying to find a balance between the now and the has-been.
Denial, hatred, disgust – Forgiveness, Love and Gratefulness
Contradictions, doubts and confrontations that HIV forces upon me had been intense. A certain introspection of past, present and future are a continuous source of inspiration. Who was I as a “Negative”? Who am I as a “Positive”?
HIV has changed my life. To better and worse.
Ever since my infection, blood has become a fascinating aspect in my life. Be it the tri-monthly blood tests I take, the viral load, or the sensation of “venomous” blood, or an alien entity inside it.
Combined with the medical approach, the contradictions between the medical and the poetic confrontations are in constant contrast to one another. My perception of blood and its meaning shifts constantly. Poisonous, reason for my infection, but giver of life.
Blood infected me. Sex infected me. And my blood could still be weaponised.
As part of my work I intend to document this life with HIV – and how it infiltrates the everyday. Despite having treatment, new routines and dependencies have established themselves in my life. A pill a day keeping me healthy, tri-monthly blood examinations and an alarm that rings once a day. To remind me of my medication. To remind me that I’m HIV positive and dependent.
Had I not been diagnosed and medicated, the estimated time of AIDS, or death of an AIDS-related illness would have been 2019. This is a rather unsettling thought.
And yet science is my saviour. Parallels to religious myths and imagery, from my own death and creation, to my emotional resurrection or the daily altar bread in form of my medication come to mind.
I have sinned, and am paying my dues. My pillbox is that holy grail, granting me life.