For three decades, MTV have been at the forefront of popular culture working with the most cutting edge, established and revered artists from the late 20th and early 21st century. The illustrious MTV have constantly pushed the boundaries of contemporary culture by testing new waters and introducing exciting projects. Coinciding with their arrival came the groundbreaking discovery of the AIDS virus that has affected the world to an unprecedented scale. To mark this MTV have launched their RE:DEFINE project which brings together 30 world renowned artists to showcase their work and to take part in a live auction. We talk to Georgia Arnold, Executive Director, Staying Alive Foundation about the aim of the project and what we can to expect to see.
Dazed Digital: Can you describe the aim of this project?
Georgia Arnold: The aim of MTV RE:DEFINE is to mark the 30th anniversary of the discovery of the AIDS virus through an exhibition of 30 powerful artworks by 30 world renowned artists. As well as the exhibition, collectors from around the world will have the opportunity to bid on the artworks through a live auction event on September 24th at the Goss-Michael Foundation in Dallas hosted by renowned auctioneer Simon de Pury, as well as simultaneously online. 100% of the proceeds will benefit the MTV Staying Alive Foundation and its mission in encouraging and empowering all the amazing young people around the world who are committed to raising HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention.
DD: What can people expect to see at RE:DEFINE exhibition?
Georgia Arnold: Visitors will be able to view a bold and eclectic mix of paintings, photography and sculpture from some of the most exciting contemporary, street art and emerging artists, many of which have been created specifically for the MTV RE:DEFINE project. Artists on show include Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Shepard Fairey, Faile, Katrin Fridriks, Gérard Rancinan, Harland Miller, Lee Baker and Gavin Turk. At the culmination of the exhibition, there will be an exclusive auction event and party with a live music performance.
DD: Why are the artists you have chosen significant to the project? How are they linked?
Georgia Arnold: The show was curated by The Future Tense, who wanted to bring together a roster of artists that they felt encapsulated the spirit of MTV in some way, from its inception back in 1981 through to today. They also wanted to highlight some people who they felt were key future talents alongside the internationally renowned artists. Having seen the works individually, they've managed to maintain a very consistent feel despite such a wide variety of artists and mediums, and I'm very excited to see it as a collective body of work on the walls.
DD: Despite reaching the 30th anniversary of the discovery of the AIDS virus, this event emphasises the importance to stay committed to a cause. What impact do you expect this project will have?
Georgia Arnold: The MTV Staying Alive Foundation has made great strides in helping to educate young people about HIV/AIDS with over 300 Staying Alive projects in 58 countries. These young people care about their communities and are passionate about the causes that they believe in. Despite a slow reduction in infections at least 7000 people a day are still catching the disease. It’s vital that we continue to reach them, and empower them to fight the stigma, spread and threat of the epidemic.
DD: MTV has had a long partnership with cutting edge contemporary artists such as with Basquiat, Warhol and Haring. Would you agree that this continued working relationship is even more poignant in this current age?
Georgia Arnold: Absolutely. Today’s youth are of course huge consumers of culture and media, and are so tapped into what’s cutting edge, what’s thought-provoking and what's relevant. They have a huge appetite to learn, be influenced and inspired. Artists such as Shephard Fairey, who have creatively portrayed social youth issues through their work, have helped encourage young people to connect and share their perspectives on a different, meaningful platform, which we support wholeheartedly.