British artist John Walter is visiting the School to introduce his new multimedia project Alien Sex Club, which explores the relationship between visual culture and HIV today.
Alien Sex Club uses the spatial device of the cruise maze to bring together works that address the complex subject of contemporary sexual health. The exhibition will consist of a large-scale installation based on the shapes of cruise mazes, found in sex clubs and gay saunas. It will comprise sculpture, painting, video, performance and installation. Visitors will be immersed in a multisensory world in which they can watch videos and live performances, get lost in the maze and have food and drink in the performance bar.
The project will use popular forms including hospitality, fortune-telling, comedy and the aesthetic of carnivals and festivals to introduce issues to a wide audience and make the subject palatable, interesting and fun, while grounding it in cross-disciplinary research. Artists, activists, HIV specialists, clinical academics and scientists will come together to devise a public programme of talks and performances that will provide audiences with a new vocabulary for understanding and talking about HIV and the factors contributing to its transmission.
The project is part of Walter’s AHRC funded PhD at the University of Westminster and will be shown at Ambika P3, the University’s exhibition space in central London from 24 July to 14 August. His research in epidemiology is grounded in a collaboration between Walter and Dr Alison Rodger, Senior Lecturer and Honorary Consultant in Infectious Diseases and HIV at University College London, supported by a Small Arts Award from the Wellcome Trust. The project has also received funding from Arts Council England.