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CIRCA World AIDS day
Courtesy of CIRCA

Circa is broadcasting a ‘viral’ activist film to commemorate World AIDS Day

General Idea’s AA Bronson has created an animation that will be shown on billboards in London, Milan, New York, Seoul, and Tokyo

In recognition of World AIDS Day, Circa is collaborating with artist AA Bronson on a “viral” animation that will transmit activist messages across billboards in London, Milan, New York, Seoul, and Tokyo.

The VideoVirus project is part of a partnership with UNAIDS and Terrence Higgins Trust to mark 40 years since the disease was first recorded in 1981. 

For the animation, AA Bronson – the sole surviving member of Canadian art trio General Idea – drew inspiration from the collective’s 1980s Imagevirus series of paintings, posters, and exhibitions that investigated AIDS as a viral transmission through word and image.

Building on Imagevirus’ original intention of rendering visible an ignored crisis, VideoVirus aims to celebrate our progress toward the eradication of AIDS.

“General Idea first developed the concept of viral images in the early 1970s. In the mid-80s that work became prophetically and tragically true, with the appearance of the HIV virus. In 1987 we exhibited our first AIDS painting and papered lower Manhattan with AIDS posters in the hope of making the image indeed viral,” said Bronson in a statement. 

“35 years later, and marking the 40th anniversary of AIDS first being recorded, I am honoured to join the CIRCA platform with this reimagined VideoVirus. General Idea’s VideoVirus replicates the spread of HIV to the four corners of the world; it expands General Idea's signature theme of ‘image as virus’ for a global audience,” he added.

Founded in Toronto in 1969, General Idea began as a collaboration between AA Bronson, Felix Partz, and Jorge Zontal. 

The group’s transgressive artworks challenged social power structures and traditional artistic formats until Partz and Zontal’s untimely deaths from AIDS-related causes in 1994.

“With nearly 1.5 million new HIV infections and 680,000 deaths each year, the AIDS epidemic is far from over. But it can be. AA Bronson’s art is a powerful reminder of sacrifices made by activists and people living with HIV and to learn from them to tackle not just HIV, but all pandemics. We are proud to partner with CIRCA in bringing attention to the AIDS pandemic at a time when we are fighting both COVID-19 and AIDS,” said Mahesh Mahalingam, director, communications, and global advocacy at UNAIDS. 

As well as broadcasting VideoVirus on billboards across the world, CIRCA is announcing an online programme of talks and informative videos guest-curated by LGBTQ+ charity QUEERCIRCLE. The organisation has been awarded a grant of £5,000 to deliver an artist-led participatory residency with HIV positive women during their 2022 winter season.

Bronson has also created two limited-edition prints that are available to purchase on the website, with proceeds going towards the #CIRCAECONOMY programme.

“Four decades since AIDS was first recorded, CIRCA is honoured to collaborate with AA Bronson and dedicate its global, public platform to commemorating an epidemic that society once ignored,” said Josef O’Connor, artistic director at CIRCA.

Although Felix and Jorge are no longer with us, their memory survives in this moving animation which wraps its arms around the world on this anniversary month, raising vital awareness and helping bring us all one step closer to achieving zero new HIV transmissions by 2030,” he concluded.

VideoVirus is showing this evening at 20.21 PM at the Piccadilly Lights in London and also globally in Seoul, Coex K-Pop Square, Melbourne, Fed Square, Milan, Luxottica, Piazzale Cadorna, New York, Luxottica, Times Square, and Tokyo, Yunika Vision