Award 2019 - Longlisted

What Would an HIV Doula Do?
– Theodore Kerr

About the project

In the spring of 2015, an intergenerational group of people came together to discuss experiences around the ongoing AIDS crisis. From that gathering, the What Would an HIV Doula Do? The collective was formed. Since then, What Would an HIV Doula Do has used conversation, exhibition, film, publishing, visual art, and writing to help reduce the harm of HIV while ensuring that the spirit of community, that once dominated the AIDS response, continues and is supported, visible and understood to be vital in ending the epidemic. We do this in collaboration with groups, institutions, and individuals, believing that since no one gets HIV alone, and no one should deal with HIV alone, no single entity should respond to HIV alone either.

Since we began, we have hosted screenings, discussions, workshops, dances and other gatherings where we have worked with communities to create installations of locally-informed AIDS timelines, updated Zoe Leonard’s “I Want a Dyke” manifesto, collectively wrote letters to HIV+ people in jail and used our bodies to intervene in problematic exhibitions.

Key to our programs is the creation/distribution of printed material (zine, flyer, fortune teller, etc.) These objects serve as a reminder that there is a weight to the epidemic, it’s not theoretical. HIV is a material reality with physical, social, spiritual ramifications that need to be addressed.

We see ourselves creating an artful space of sharing and discovery for people living with and impacted by HIV, while making an impact at the structural level, “doula-ing” the culture and systems to challenge, support and examine practices and beliefs around the virus. We work within ourselves, spheres of influence, and beyond to ask questions. Crucial to us is, what does AIDS mean now? What do people need? How do we respond?

 

 

About the artist

WWHIVDD is a web of artists, activists, chaplains, dancers, educators, health care workers and writers living with and/or impacted by HIV. Guiding us is our understanding that doulas hold space during times of transition, and that HIV is a series of transitions that begin before someone may get a test, and continue after someone may start treatment. We doula ourselves, exploring our AIDSphobia and related fears, transitioning ourselves into a community we need, to be of service with others.