The A.R.T. Show has been curated by Carol Brown and David Gere, with major funding from the Andy Warhol Foundation. Additional support has been provided by the Ford Foundation and the School of the Arts and Architecture at the University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA).
For three decades, visual and performing artists have played a vital role in addressing HIV and AIDS throughout the world. This is especially true in the current era, when antiretroviral treatment (A.R.T.) is available to some, though not all, who need it in the Southern African region. Artists now are asking tremendously big questions: Who gets treatment and who doesn’t? Will we run out of money for drugs that must be taken every day for the rest of one’s life? Who profits from these drugs? What does it feel like to be restored to life after being so close to death? And what about the orphans?
The A.R.T. Show is meant to explore all these questions and more, from the standpoint of art and creativity, and also from the standpoint of antiretroviral treatment. This is a show about Art and A.R.T. together. Many of the creative artists represented in this exhibition hail from South Africa, where art and design have played a huge role in moving toward the goal of universal treatment for HIV and AIDS. But artists from other countries, such as the United States, are here too, and the curators plan to include new artists wherever the exhibition travels.
A feature of The A.R.T. Show is a portable trunk, designed by Durban designer, Xavier Clarisse, which displays its contents in the manner of a cabinet of curiosities, precursor to the modern museum. In actuality, and symbolically, the intent is to transcend the pretensions and limitations of the modern museum, to encourage direct communication about HIV, AIDS, and A.R.T. in places such as community centers, shopping malls, and schools, as well as galleries and museums. This is an opportunity to think deeply about the ways in which antiretroviral treatment for HIV and AIDS is changing all our lives.