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Grahame Perry creates photo collages and manipulated photos, with a ablaze pop art sensibility, that appearance his own adventures as a adept survivor of HIV. His assignment is both political and claimed and conveys animosity alignment from annoyance and aching to hope. His alternation Materials of Adaptation explores his accord to medication and the circuitous and evolving ability about HIV treatment. Ultimately his art raises questions about how new medical technology interacts with ability to blush people’s lived adventures and senses of self.

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Perry afresh showed his assignment in SF Camerawork’s display Continued Term Survivor Project. He has a abandoned appearance at Magnet SF aperture in November with a accession on the 6th of November. He feels that Magnet, a men’s bloom centermost in the Castro, is a absolute abode to appearance his art.

OT: You appearance seems to accept afflicted badly with the Am I Blue series. What aggressive this change?

GP: Anything art-inspired has to be article that resonates with you, and absolutely my acquaintance as addition who is HIV absolute has been a big allotment of my life. I anticipate alike from aboriginal on I capital my photography to allege to that, but what that would be absolutely took me a bit of time to assignment out. There seems to be two types of assignment that I am doing. The alternation Am I Blue are self-portraits. In Materials of Adaptation I am demography accurate images and alignment them – usually digitally. And I use altered processes in the two series; one breadth I accept an angel I can use photographically and the added breadth I accept an idea. For instance if I appetite to appearance the abstraction of demography medication for so long, I ability booty a account of a scattering of what I booty in a day and afresh lay it out to appearance twenty-four years of medication. I feel freer to dispense this blazon of work. It is apparently afterpiece to agenda art as against to beeline photography.

OT: Do you see your techniques, such as collage, as allotment of the concepts of the art or aloof your method?

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GP: Yeah, I anticipate my techniques are allotment of it. Collage is a way for me to anticipate for myself, and to accept what it would beggarly for added bodies to attending at this, whether if it’s this abounding pills or this abounding claret vials or this abounding obituaries, the abstraction of what its like to be HIV absolute for twenty-five years, or what its like to deathwatch up every morning and accept to booty these pills. How do you put that above in article that’s visual?

I additionally like the abstraction of application blush so that those colors collaborate to become added than allotment of the background, they are allotment of the account itself. Things accept afflicted over the years aback I aboriginal tested. It was a actual alarming time; there absolutely wasn’t any treatment. The alone affair that was arresting were bodies who were afraid or accepting ailing or dying. Now we accept treatments actuality accustomed to bodies who accept admission to them. Bodies can alive a adequately continued time. So there has been a absolute change and I am application blush to represent that, some of the ablaze colors may be apocalyptic of a change of affecting reaction. I abnormally use that in Every Three Months.

OT: Has your assignment accustomed any absorbing or abrupt reactions?

GP: I am consistently absorbed to apprehend what bodies think. It’s consistently different; It could be addition like me who has been demography medication and has gone through this continued complex history or addition who has afresh activated absolute or addition who is HIV abrogating but has absent accompany or addition who is new to this and aloof wants to acquaintance it as art. Recently, at the appearance at Camerawork, breadth I was with two added artists who are additionally aggravating to accomplish art about abiding survivorship, I talked to bodies about how they responded to the assignment and what their thoughts about it were. With the Camerawork appearance there were a lot of bodies who came from the association who weren’t acclimated to activity to galleries. The arcade administrator said he was actual emotionally afflicted aloof celebratory the people, the survivors and added bodies in the association who came to see the show. It’s art, but it additionally talks about a actual claimed acquaintance both for myself and the bodies who were examination it. It’s absorbing to see how abundant I allocution about it as art and how abundant I allocution about it as my own claimed acquaintance and how that was mirrored in the responses of bodies who came to see the show.

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OT: Is it adamantine to appearance assignment that is so personal?


I was talking about this the added day. There is a bulk of advancing out, abnormally aback I aboriginal started authoritative the work. I started authoritative some of the assignment at City College; the aboriginal allotment I fabricated is the one alleged “Obsession.” I did that for a architecture class. I was actual nervous. I was talking about it in the third being although I am abiding it was bright to a cardinal of bodies that I was apparently talking about my own experience. I was in this new citizenry of bodies I hadn’t appear out to in that respect. It was a little alarming … I assumption what’s hasty is the bulk of abutment I accept gotten both for the assignment and for bringing my own acquaintance to it. All of my fears didn’t absolutely calculation for anything; bodies accept been supportive, they accept apparent care, they’ve apparent love. I acquainted absolutely empowered.

There was a time whenit seemed like HIV was all we were talking about. Afresh there was this aeon afterwards the pills became accessible breadth anybody approved to get aback to normal, whatever that was. Afterwards that it wasn’t talked about much. Actuality I am accomplishing this assignment that brings it all back. I’ve been afraid by how abundant caring and abutment bodies accept that is so abundant allotment of this area; it recreates what went on afore in the present.

OT: Why do you anticipate it’s important to accept these conversations again?

GP: I anticipate as a association a lot of bodies capital to somewhat put this abaft them because it was so cutting and emotionally debilitating. For myself and others accepting aback to accustomed … accustomed on some akin has consistently been ambidextrous with this illness. It doesn’t accept to ascertain us but it’s a allotment of our lives. HIV accustomed bodies to do added than they could possibly imagine, to body these organizations aback the government was basically axis their backs and aback there was so abundant stigma bodies were accident jobs. It accustomed bodies to do things that were extraordinary. To say we’re aloof not activity to allocution about it is a abuse of what was accomplished.

Also, alike admitting a lot of things accept been apparent there are a lot of things that are still unknown. There accept been a lot of groups that accept formed that are focused on abiding survival. A lot of the HIV account groups are starting to admit that there are needs as you get an crumbling citizenry that is added brittle because they are HIV positive. There is a faculty there are needs that accept not been actual arresting that charge to be addressed. There is additionally the faculty that in this breadth in the gay association the men who would accept congenital the institutions for the earlier LGBT association died. There is a accomplished bearing that is missing.

I anticipate there is additionally for me alone a faculty of attractive aback and saying, “What was my life, what was that all about?” and aggravating to accomplish faculty of it, aggravating to body article that represents that.

OT: You mentioned the allotment Obsession. It seems like attraction is an abnormal way to call medication. Can you explain why you chose that title?

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GP: I anticipate attraction is important because of my own claimed story. Afterwards I became acquainted I was positive, one of the things I did was apprehend all I could about HIV and abeyant treatments, therapies, and another therapies. Aback afresh – this was ’88 or ’89, afore the internet, but there were account boards and a lot of newsletters. There were groups that were bringing in altered things, whether it be vitamins or drugs from added countries or blast therapy. There was a area of things and bodies were desperate. I took some of the treatments with altered levels of proof. And the acquaintance of account and experimenting on myself and acceptable an able above what the doctors could action me, that array of attraction is what I was talking about in Obsession.

In the angel I accept the drugs, which were the assorted regiments I had taken up until 2009. There is an allusion to this one alpha combination, which I was on for about a dozen years, which I anticipate adored my life. This was article that was taken illicitly. Eventually my doctor gave it to a agglomeration of us, but he was accomplishing it after anybody knowing. He could apparently accept gotten his authorization bare away. Attraction is about the alpha nature, the affected nature, of absolutely accepting to action for my own bloom at a time aback there wasn’t a lot of information.

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OT: What new projects are you alive on now?

GP: I’ve gotten a lot of absolute acknowledgment to the every AIDS Obituary; I’m aggravating to get permission to use alone panels from the AIDS Memorial Quilt and accomplish a collage application that. I accept several added pieces I’ve been cerebration about as well. I’m activity to abide to body on this alternation – it doesn’t absolutely feel completed yet, but there are additionally added things I appetite to do. I would like to do some delineation of bodies who are HIV positive. I anticipate a lot of the assignment that looks aback on the accomplished can be mournful. I appetite to ask, “We accept gone through all of this; what makes your activity account active now?” Whether that is someone’s adulation or the adulation of art or whatever an alone ability do. I appetite to accomplish delineation that is attractive to the future, added of a celebration. That’s article I realize, I’ve been accustomed all this time that a lot of bodies weren’t; I still feel like there is a acumen to be absolute and optimistic and to allege out, because I’m still here.

OT: I was absorbed in the allotment Wider Horizons; it seems to abode altered issues from your added work. Could you allocution about that?

GP: I’m animated you acknowledgment that piece. There are some pieces I’ve been authoritative that feel like a accomplished new area of work. For me it addresses some questions I accept about today. It’s a catechism that is focused on adolescent gay men. We now accept this ability and accoutrement we never had. In the accomplished we consistently acclimated condoms, but now there is PrEP [medication that reduces accident of accepting HIV] and the ability that if you are absolute and if you’re demography medication and accept an ephemeral viral load, you are noninfectious. You accept the old tools, condoms, and some bodies accept not to use condoms but accept to beddy-bye with bodies of the aforementioned cachet [referred to serosorting]. So you accept all these accoutrement and all these altered opinions about them; I’m apprehensive how bodies are communicating about all this. I feel like bodies may be yelling. In this allotment I am graphically apery altered genitalia of this dialogue

OT: Are you aloof apery this chat or commenting on it?

Wider Horizons

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GP: A little of both. I absolutely accept my own opinions. And absolutely aback bodies say “mister clean” and the abstraction of serosorting … what does that beggarly for HIV-positive people? Well, you’re apple-pie and I never can be clean; how does that accomplish me feel? Is that stigma? Is that best Buts it’s absolutely activity on.

I anticipate for me, pieces like Wider Horizons are mostly a way to communicate, abnormally with adolescent men whose reactions are a lot altered than mine. I absolutely can’t anticipate the means they are demography in all these ideas. I’m analytical about the absoluteness of a, say, a twenty-two-year old that is HIV positive, to accept beneath bodies talking about it but to accept added options. I admiration if with beneath chat about HIV there may be added stigma.

I anticipate there is this accomplished affair that is accident that I’m actual absorbed by. I anticipate if this bolus Truvada [PrEP] had been accessible in 1988 anybody would accept taken it, but now it’s different, some bodies are saying, “If you booty this bolus is it aloof because you appetite to accept alarming sex?”. I’m appealing abiding that’s not the reality, but there is a arresting articulation that is adage that. I apperceive bodies who are on Truvada and I apperceive that’s not the alone reason, but alike if that is the alone acumen for assertive people, don’t they accept the appropriate to become 95 percent adequate from whatever choices or mistakes they ability make?

I had a adventitious to allocution to a brace bodies at Camerawork who were artists who are HIV absolute and are aggravating to accomplish art that talks to their experience. I anticipate that it’s alluring that we accept this generational communication, sometimes interpersonally and sometimes on the walls of galleries.

OT: What array of acknowledgment accept you gotten from the adolescent population?

GP: I had some discussions in the arcade with a accumulation of adolescent bodies who were HIV positive. There was absolutely a reaction; it’s air-conditioned to see addition who has lived with this affliction for thirty years if you accept aloof accepted about it for two years and you agnosticism your own longevity. I anticipate alike today with all this ability it can still agitate your acceptance in your future. So I anticipate that is important, but that’s alone the beginning. I anticipate there has to be added of a chat on both sides.

There are a lot of conversations that still charge to happen. Camerawork had a annular table with Anja Matthes, who has a set of photos of Kiki Ballroom, a alternation of assurance in New York for LGBT people, primarily bodies of color. In some of those communities there are still huge amounts of HIV-positive incidents. In assertive communities 50 percent of atramentous gay men ability be positive, which is as bad as it was in 1984 in the Castro. These are communities that ability feel added abandoned and not accept the assets or the abutment that ability accept existed in San Francisco.

To see added of Grahame Perry’s assignment appointment the Tikkun Art Arcade or the artist’s website

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