On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Elena Pinchuk ANTIAIDS Foundation, the PinchukArtCentre
and the ANTIAIDS Foundation present a special exhibition dedicated to the theme of HIV/AIDS in contemporary art, entitled Where Theres a Will, Theres a Way. The exhibition opens ahead of World AIDS Day on 1 December and bridges artists early response to AIDS in the US in the 1980-90s with todays urgent need to raise HIV/AIDS awareness in Ukraine.
The project includes iconic works by Damien Hirst, Ai Weiwei, Nan Goldin and Félix González-Torres. Five new pieces were created especially for the exhibition, including a large scale outdoor video projection by Tony Oursler; a multimedia project created by Nan Goldin in Ukraine in the lead up to the exhibition; a video by Ai Weiwei; a photo by Sergiy Bratkov; and a performance by Ilya Chichkan.
Elena Pinchuk, Founder of the ANTIAIDS Foundation: The works we have managed to pull for the exhibition with a symbolic title Where Theres a Will, Theres a Way represent a story of how art community have been reacting to the AIDS epidemics. The majority of the exhibits that you will see today were created as a result of artists personal pain of losing their beloved ones to the disease. The works presented within the art space are the stories of loss and hope, stories of changes in societys reaction towards people affected by HIV/AIDS, stories of how the need to survive shifted cultural boundaries of what was and what was not appropriate to discuss publicly. I hope this exhibition will reach hearts and minds of young people who every day take decisions which outline their future.
In addition to the exhibition at the PinchukArtCentre, the project moves beyond the museum and onto the street with a billboard project by Félix González-Torres. More than 30 billboards featuring a photograph of the artists empty bed have been installed across Kyivs city center.
Over three nights, 15 to 17 November, from 17:00 till 24:00, a video installation by Tony Oursler will be projected onto the PinchukArtCentres façade. The artist will transform the building into a giant projection screen, occupying it with a virtual chorus of faces. Those faces, speaking English, Ukrainian and Russian, will play a form of telephone game, tracing the passage of language from one person to the next in a long chain.
The exhibition Where Theres a Will, Theres a Way is the first time international artists, the Elena Pinchuk ANTIAIDS Foundation and the PinchukArtCentre have joined forces in the fight against AIDS in Ukraine. The project tells the story of the art worlds response to the AIDS epidemics that originated in 1980s in New York when society was shaken by the AIDs-related deaths of photographers and artists, including Félix González-Torres, Robert Mapplethorpe, Keith Haring, Vito Russo, David Wojnarowicz and many more. As a reaction to these tragic losses, as well as to the indifference and inaction of the U.S. government, a powerful art movement evolved that brought together leading contemporary artists who employed traditional media as well as turning to the tools and language of the mass media to integrate their work into the environment. Key works of that period, along with more recent works, have become part of the Where Theres a Will, Theres a Way tracing, in a way, the "footprint" of the AIDS epidemic on the art world.
Some of the exhibiting artists have already cooperated with the Elena Pinchuk ANTIAIDS Foundation. In 2010, Damien Hirst donated his In Love painting to the charity auction organized by the ANTIAIDS Foundation. As a result of the ANTIAIDS charity auction, 3 million dollars were raised - the largest amount ever raised for charity in the Ukraine. All proceeds of the auction were donated to the Elena Pinchuk ANTIAIDS Foundation for an extended collaborative project with the Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative.
Earlier this year, Ai Weiwei developed a video with the message Love is in our Blood for the Elton John AIDS Foundation, which immediately went viral, as if its distribution was a metaphor for AIDS. The video was screened on large-scale monitors in the New Yorks Time Square, in Londons Piccadilly and, with the support of the Elena Pinchuk ANTIAIDS Foundation, in Kyivs Independence Square.
In 2010 Ilya Chichkan supported the work of the ANTIAIDS Foundation with his Fashion AID T-shirt concept, creating several original safe sex prints for the T-shirt collection. It was the first collaboration between the Foundation and the Ukrainian art community.