January #120 : Exhibit AIDS - by Rebecca Minnich

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Table of Contents

Out in Africa

2006: Making Resolutions That Stick

Doctor's Diary - January 2006

Boiling Pointers

Juiced for Health

A Smarter Smear

Kinks in the Pipeline

Meds: The Sequel

Ask the Sexpert - January 2006

Breaking Out

Chicken Little

Catch of the Month - January 2006

Employee of the Month - January 2006

A Higher Education

What C2EA meant to me

Sex and Sickness in the City

So Many Men, So Little Time

Exhibit AIDS

Alternative Scene

Buzz - January 2005

High-definition HIV

A Perfect Threesome

Mentors - January 2006

Relaxed Security

Mailbox - January 2006

Editor's Letter - January 2006

Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle


Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV

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January 2006

Exhibit AIDS

by Rebecca Minnich

At sex museums, condom skyscrapers can be masterpieces, but HIV information is still a work in progress

A virus spread through bedroom behavior surely deserves a place in the annals of sex history. In spring 2006, London will open the newest of a dozen worldwide sex museums—a cultural trend lending a sheen of academic gravitas to “please touch” art and paraphernalia. Though the London site plans to push sex education and social responsibility, POZ detected no mention of HIV in media coverage so far. So how have other halls captured the bug?

U.S. sex museums push the viral envelope but have hardly put HIV under the microscope. In its first year (2001), New York City’s Museum of Sex ran “NYC Sex: How New York Transformed Sex in America,” which celebrated gay communities and their pro-condom ’80s posters. Assistant curator Sarah Jacobs says HIV is “definitely part of the museum’s ongoing mission.” At Hollywood, California’s Erotic Museum, curator Eric Singley says AIDS is too depressing for museumgoers. “We have concentrated on the positive potential of human sexuality. People come to our museum to be entertained.” Within Miami’s spanking-new World Erotic Art Museum, there’s no trace of HIV. “It’s definitely something we’ll address as we build our collection and think about future exhibits,” says art director Julian Murphy, whose own HIV art contributions include a condom-capped World Trade Center.

Even in Europe, where risqué theorizing blossomed in the mid-’90s, HIV is only slightly more visible. Barcelona’s Museu de l’Eròtica focuses on ancient erotic art. But temporary exhibitions have included AIDS-themed works and a condom vending machine. Amsterdam’s Sex Museum barely ventures beyond early contraception, while Paris’ Museé Eroticisme manager Joseph Kalifa says he skips the pandemic. “If we start talking about HIV and prevention, it becomes medical, and that becomes boring.” But Jim Hubbard, who documented old-school ACT UP activists and made his videos available at the New York Public Library, thinks this line of thinking is wrongheaded: “There’s a wealth of material out there—zines, comics, paintings, videos—and it’s not the least bit depressing.” Plus, who’s ever heard of a boring museum? 

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