Scott Treleaven

The rough edged look of the poster is an intentional strategy: I always find that the trace of an actual hand-drawn element in posters or signage makes a message far more immediate and intimate. I wanted to come up with something simple, striking, and evocative of the kind of imagery that’s always caught my attention (HomoCult, Gran Fury, Queer Action Figures, etc). The pos/neg imagery was an obvious choice for me as all of my current work deals with ideas of interconnectivity, continuity, and perception. As constructs, the symbols are only useful as visual shorthand and they deliberately fall apart, or vanish, at the edge of the page. As for the text - the message is simple. It’s a broad-based but heartfelt slogan meant to imply a number of issues around health, awareness, community, charity, and solidarity. Queers, especially younger ones, seem to be fatigued when it comes to AIDS awareness, and I think this is largely due to the awful, exclusionary push towards “normalizing” queer culture. The message, to look after each other, is always worth reiterating. We’ve always watched out for one another when no one else would. And this message is becoming more important than ever.



Alexis Mitchell

I began to think about my project for Poster Virus through the lens of disclosure - about what it means for different bodies to have to speak and the precarity of speaking out when bodies are already in danger. For me, this culminates in the space of the prison, where those left most vulnerable through acts of disclosure - speaking out and/or staying silent, become embodied in one space/place. Because of this, I use the body of a white, male subject building his fortress in the sand in conjunction with the slogan “ As long as there are prisons, there will be AIDS” in order to point to the ways that a homonormative gay agenda further silences, marginalizes and hides behind those consistently affected by the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC).

This sentiment comes from Dean Spade about the shared experiences of Trans people (specifically trans women of colour) and people living with HIV within the PIC. It is at this moment of confluence, between the fears and real ramifications of disclosing one’s status and disclosing one’s assigned gender that becomes unavoidable in thinking about who is incarcerated and who has access to the constant construction and renegotiation of state power.

In noting the ways these bodies are continuously left out, there is a real need to point to the structures which continuously take them in, and ask what kinds of systems and experiences do prisons uphold and whether there is a possibility of dismantling them with the prison still standing.


My gluten fix for the week. This past week I was wheat-pasting with POSTER VIRUS, an art action / culture jamming / consciousness raising happening. Check out the website below for curatorial statement and information on context of the posters below. Also for more pictures of the posters in Toronto. 


[taken from:]

Alex McClelland and Jessica Whitbread

poster/VIRUS Curators

We are under pressure. Our viral loads are overloaded. The response to AIDS is becoming destabilized. We are faltering, becoming complacent, giving up and giving in. The law is creeping further and further in. Our bodies are over-medicalized. And our lives are under-supported. We are not the public that ‘Public Health’ cares about. The AIDS Industrial Complex forces out Treatment as Prevention, while state indifference and austerity measures crush us. But we are “resilient” right?

We are tired of the limits imposed on how we can talk about AIDS. We are tired of individualized responses that ignore the realities and complexities of our lives. We are tired of being defined through acronyms. We are tired of the buzzwords, language that privileges some groups over others and increases the divide between us and them. The bureaucratization of AIDS has marginalized voices that complicate for too long.

But things are changing. There is a move from business suits and pharma-driven hotel conferences back to the grassroots. This year with the poster/VIRUS project we continue to make new assertions about AIDS. We have worked with artists and activists on a series of works that address poverty, sex work, HIV disclosure, queers, incarceration, criminalization, privilege and neo-liberalism.

With this project we are calling for a return to dialogue and complexity. We are moving away from one-way social marketing AIDS campaigns. We are critiquing public health messages that divorce people from the harmful impacts of institutions and the state. This is why these works were developed as a dialogue between activists and artists, and this is why we encourage these works to help promote community dialogues. We continue the tradition of claiming space for those of us who are most impacted by the epidemic. We hope that these works provoke, critique and encourage new ways of conceptualizing and talking about AIDS. The AIDS experience is spoken through many voices. As a diverse community, we have always been able to take care of each other. We need to remember where we came from. We need to continue to self-organize. AIDS ACTION NOW!“