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Art, Craft and the AIDS Crisis - a panel discussion

Audio from the panel discussion Art, Craft and the AIDS Crisis held at the Dowse Art Museum, Lower Hutt on 26 May 2018. The event was chaired by Simon Gennard, 2017 Blumhardt Foundation/Creative New Zealand Curatorial Intern and curator of Sleeping Arrangements and featured panelists Kevin Jensen, Richard Benge and Julia Craig. A special thank you to the Dowse Art Museum and participants for allowing this event to be recorded and shared.

Quilt panels mentioned in this recording include: Brendan Pole, Ian Williams, John Chorlton, John Eade and Rudi ten Have, Leigh Teirawhiti Ransfield, Rodger Wright, Simon Morley, the Taitokerau Block and the World AIDS Day 1994 block.

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  • 0:00:05 - Simon Gennard (chair)
  • 0:04:00 - Kevin Jensen
  • 0:20:30 - Richard Benge
  • 0:30:15 - Julia Craig
  • 0:36:46 - Simon Gennard - questions
  • 0:57:50 - Audience questions


This panel discussion titled "Art, Craft, and the AIDS Crisis," held at the Dowse Art Museum and hosted by Simon Gennard, delved into the intersection of creative expression and the impact of the HIV/AIDS crisis from the 1980s through the 2010s. The panel featured Kevin Jensen, Richard Benge, and Julia Craig, who variously contributed to the understanding and memorialization of HIV/AIDS through activism, advocacy, and academic research.

Kevin Jensen discussed the New Zealand AIDS Quilt, highlighting it as a somber yet celebratory artifact, commemorating those who died from AIDS-related complications. Each panel of the quilt represents a lost loved one, serving both as a symbol of personal grief and a public testament to the individual's life. Jensen described the quilt's purpose in creating both a grave and a bed, embodying finality and comfort.

Richard Benge shared poignant memories of the early pandemic, discussing the immediate needs and reactions within the community. They emphasized the power of collective action in the face of government inaction and social stigma. Benge also described the ritualistic nature of quilt displays, fostering a ceremonial space for remembrance and reflection.

Julia Craig offered an academic perspective, examining how art can challenge prevailing stereotypes and misinformation about HIV/AIDS. They explored the representations of the virus within the media, shedding light on the mischaracterizations that contribute to social stigmas. Craig detailed their master's thesis work, which scrutinizes how artists subvert narrow narratives to evoke a fuller understanding of living with HIV/AIDS.

Together, the speakers underscored the enduring importance of the AIDS Quilt as a tribute to lives lost and a canvas for public education. They emphasized the need to maintain awareness of HIV/AIDS and confront contemporary issues within the community.

Throughout the event, the panel acknowledged the role of art and craft in serving both as a means of activism and as a therapeutic process for those affected by the crisis. The quilt, with its collaborative and personalized nature, was spotlighted as a powerful symbol of community, collective memory, and the ongoing battle against HIV/AIDS. As such, it was noted to be an effective tool for education and for keeping alive the stories and struggles associated with the epidemic. The talk concluded with an open discussion, allowing audience members to engage directly with the speakers, and highlighting the permanence of the crisis' impact on our collective history.

This summary is created using Generative AI. Although it is based on the recording's transcription, it may contain errors or omissions. Click here to learn more about how this summary was created.


1980s, 1990s, 2010s, academia, act up, activism, aids at home (exhibition), aids memorial quilt, aids orphan, aids support network,, ann packer, antiretroviral drugs, aotearoa new zealand, apathy, art aids america (exhibition), artist, artists alliance, arts, arts access aotearoa, arts council of new zealand, auckland art gallery, bdsm, beacons of hope (wellington), breast feeding, brendan pole, burnout, candlelight memorials, catherine tizard, cd4 count, cd4 threshold, charlie tredway, cleve jones, cremation, death, denny moran, derek jarman, dowse art museum, drug trial, ektachrome archive, exhibition, felix gonzalez-torres, gay, gee's bend (usa), grave, grief, healing, heirloom, hiv / aids, hiv education, hiv stigma, homosexual, house of labeija, how to survive a plague (documentary), ian smith, ian williams, implicated and immune (exhibition), jean stewart, john chorlton, john eade, julia craig, justin smith, karanga, keith gray, kevin jensen, kia labeija, kiki smith, leigh teirawhiti ransfield, liberace, lower hutt, lyle ashton harris, malcolm harrison, manners mall, media, memorial, michael fowler centre, michael mccabe, mr gay new zealand, museum of new zealand te papa tongarewa, names project, needle exchange programme, nelson, new york city, new zealand aids foundation (nzaf), new zealand aids memorial quilt, nicki eddy, nzaf Āwhina centre, people of colour, peter cuthbert, pharmaceutical management agency (pharmac), photography, poofter, prep (pre-exposure prophylaxis),, protease inhibitors, quilt, red spill (installation), remembrance, research, richard benge, ritual, rob calder, robert mapplethorpe, rodger wright, romania, ron athey, rudi ten have, rudolf nureyev, san francisco, school, sewing, sex, sex work, sexual histories (university of auckland paper), simon gennard, simon morley, sleeping arrangements (exhibition, 2018), stigma, storytelling, suzanne lacy, tangata whenua, ted kerr, television, terry stringer, the crystal quilt, undetectable viral load, unfolding, united states of america, university of auckland, voguing, washington d.c., welby ings, wellington, wellington botanic gardens, wellington railway station, westfield mall, window gallery (auckland), working bee, world aids day, zac langdon-pole

Record date:26th May 2018
Location:Dowse Art Museum, Lower Hutt
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Archive:The master recording is archived at the Alexander Turnbull Library (OHDL-004540).