How have artists responded to the HIV virus creatively in their work, and what effect have their projects had on communities and attitudes as a whole? This panel of experts from around the globe examines the challenges of folding HIV narratives into creative work.
Sean Strub was the first gay, HIV positive man to run for federal office in the United States. His book Body Counts: A Memoir of Politics, Sex, AIDS and Survival examines how the AIDS pandemic laid waste to the LGBT community and chronicles how activism has been at the root of a deep cultural shift in attitudes towards the disease.
Joining Sean are Dion Kagan, Jessica Whitbread and Paul Woodward. Dion is an academic and writer who lectures on gender and sexuality. Jessica is a visual artist and activist, well known for her No Pants No Problem project. Paul is a British performance academic and storyteller.
Leading writer and thinker Dennis Altman leads this incredible panel in a discussion on how deeply HIV and AIDS have impacted the cultural community, and how their responses have opened enlightening and exciting avenues of change.
Sean Strub is a long-time activist and writer who has been HIV positive for more than 33 years. He is the founder of POZ Magazine, the leading independent global source of information about HIV, and served as its publisher and executive editor from 1994 to 2004.
Dion Kagan is a writer, editor and researcher. His writing has appeared in the Sydney Review of Books, Australian Book Review, LitHub, Metro, Kill Your Darlings, The Big Issue, The Conversation, Archer and more. He is a regular columnist for The Lifted Brow and a co-host on fortnightly culture podcast The Rereaders. His book, Positive Images, came out with I.B. Tauris in 2018. Dion has a PhD from the University of Melbourne where he lectured in gender and cultural studies. He is now a books editor at Black Inc.
Jessica Whitbread works in the realm of social practice and community art, often merging art and activism to engage a diversity of audiences in critical dialogue. Whitbread often uses her own her own body and experience as a queer woman living with HIV, as the primary site of her work. In her head the entire world is a pantless tea party, full of awkward yet playful interactions that challenge hetero-normative and mainstream assumptions about bodies, sexuality and desire. Her ongoing projects include No Pants No Problem, Tea Time, and PosterVIRUS (AIDS ACTION NOW!).
Paul Woodward is a director, performer and writer based in Melbourne.
Dennis Altman is professor of politics and director of the Institute for Human Security at LaTrobe University in Melbourne.
He is the son of Jewish refugees, and a writer and academic who first came to attention with the publication of his book Homosexual: Oppression & Liberation in 1972. This book, which has often been compared to Greer’s Female Eunuch and Singer’s Animal Liberation, was the first serious analysis to emerge from the gay liberation movement, and was published in seven countries, with a readership which continues today. (In 2012 University of Queensland Press issued a 40th anniversary edition, and an anthology based on the book, After Homosexual, was published in 2014.)
Since then, Altman has written 13 books exploring sexuality, politics and their interrelationships in Australia, the United States and now globally. These include The Homosexualization of America; AIDS and the New Puritanism; Rehearsals for Change; Gore Vidal’s America and Fifty First State?, as well as a novel (The Comfort of Men) and memoirs (Defying Gravity). His book Global Sex (Chicago U.P, 2001), has been translated into five languages including Spanish, Turkish and Japanese. Most recently has co-edited Why Human Security Matters (Allen & Unwin), Thinking Politically about HIV (Routledge) and How to Vote Progressive in Australia (Monash University Press). The End of the Homosexual? was published by UQP in 2013, and in 2016 Polity published Queer Wars (co-authored with Jonathan Symons).