Our Positive Bodies
17th April - 21 june 2008
TICAH brings to London the deeply personal and explosively colourful self-portraits of HIV-positive people from Kenya, India and Thailand. At a time when everyone in these communities has been touched by the loss of parents, siblings, partners, or children, the burning questions for anyone infected today are: How do I live on? How do I stay healthy? How do I keep hope alive? The life-size Body Maps on show are a powerful response to these questions, telling stories of healing, of stigma, of strength, of care by those who make their choices in a world shaped by HIV/AIDS.
Body Mapping is a creative-therapeutic process which allows us to piece together past and present, gather strength and experience from each other, celebrate beauty and life force, dare to share and paint our dreams for the future, our ideas about what it means to be healthy.
“The process of painting ourselves is very powerful. After we have shared with one another and feel safe, we lie down on a canvas and we trace the outlines of our bodies. We choose our colours and symbols with care. We talk and think, then we paint and paint. With each day, our story comes through more clearly. We paint our fears and our scars. We paint our joys and our strength. We paint our treatments – our medicines and the herbs and foods we take. We paint our family and community. We name our maps. The process makes us remember. It makes us feel proud. We create something beautiful that shares our stories with others.”
The Trust for Indigenous Culture and Health, TICAH, is a Kenyan non-profit organization which explores the positive links between health and cultural belief, practice, knowledge, celebration, ritual, and artistic expression. This exhibition has grown out of collaboration with Art2Be, a team of Kenya-based artists and therapists, and several local AIDS support groups in Asia and in Africa. The exhibition is part of a program called LISTENING TO THOSE WHO LIVE WITH IT, a TICAH series of activist advocacy projects to bring the voices and experiences of HIV-positive people into conversations about health and policy.
Body Mapping artists from Kenya will be present during the exhibition opening, talking about their art work and sharing their life stories. Interactive and multi-sensory installations enable visitors to experience the stories of other body maps and artists. Accompanying the exhibition will be a Body Mapping Workshop, open to people living with HIV/Aids in London, an open-air Body Mapping Demonstration/Exhibition in a London park, and a Speaker’s Series co-hosted by the Development Studies Department at SOAS.