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Art, Craft and the AIDS Crisis: a panel discussion

Inaugural Unfolding of the New Zealand AIDS Memorial Quilt, Auckland Art Gallery, Auckland, 5 October 1991, photographer unknown

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In association with the exhibition Sleeping Arrangements, join community organisers Richard Benge and Kevin Jensen, and writer Julia Craig as they discuss creative responses to the AIDS Crisis.

Jensen and Benge will share their experiences facilitating the New Zealand AIDS Memorial Quilt during the 1990s. They will reflect on the origins of the project, its ongoing impact, and the political dimensions of this work of mourning and activism.

Julia Craig will share her recent research into HIV/AIDS and its representations, from the 1980s to today. Craig’s research focuses on the aesthetic and political strategies deployed by artists to challenge widespread misconceptions about the virus, insist upon its continuing significance, and reconsider how the history of the HIV/AIDS is told.

This conversation will be facilitated by Simon Gennard, 2017 Blumhardt Foundation/Creative New Zealand Curatorial Intern and curator of Sleeping Arrangements.

We will also be joined by representatives from The New Zealand AIDS Foundation who will be available for informal conversation about their prevention campaigns, testing services, and resources for those living with HIV.

About the speakers:

Richard Benge Between 1991 and 1993 Richard worked in the AIDS Prevention Events Team operating out of the New Zealand AIDS Foundation Awhina Centre in Wellington. During this time, he was part of the unveiling of the NZ AIDS Memorial Quilt in Wellington, in 1993.

Since then, Richard has worked as an independent events and communications specialist and as Cultural Specialist for the US Embassy in Wellington. Currently he is executive director for Arts Access Aotearoa – the NGO nationally recognised as the advocate for accessibility and inclusion in arts and culture for all people in Aotearoa.

Julia Craig is currently undertaking her Master of Arts in Art History at the University of Auckland, researching artistic production surrounding HIV and AIDS. She is a curator at Window and has held positions at Artists Alliance, NZ at Venice, Te Tuhi, and Connect the Dots Charitable Trust.

Kevin Jensen has been involved with the Nelson HIV/AIDS Support Network since the early 1990s, and the New Zealand AIDS Memorial Quilt from late 1994. In 2012, he assisted Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongawera in accessioning the Quilt into their collection. He now maintains the Quilt’s website (aidsquilt.org.nz) as a living document of the project. In 2005, Kevin was awarded lifetime membership of the New Zealand AIDS Foundation in recognition of his efforts in prevention and education.