Acts I / II / III

Luv ’til it Hurts is comprised of three acts. For the sake of imagination, let’s call them GAME (Act I), BUSINESS PLAN (Act II), and MARKETIZATION (Act III). For more insight into the acts, see What about Elton?. While there are multiple stakeholders involved across the project’s duration, there will be lead artists engaged for each of the three acts. These artists have been invited to help with specific points for which both design and strategy are essential. Their involvement then gives way to an ‘act’. Egyptian artist Adham Bakry is involved in ACT I. Canadian artist Niki Singleton is involved in ACT II. And Polish artist Jakub Szczęsny is involved in ACT III along with US American artist, Eric Rhein (based in NYC). ACT II takes the form of a graphic novel, and ACT III includes a traveling group show and a new ‘platform’.


Love Positive Women (February 1-14, 2020), a project by artist, Jessica Whitbread is the focus of LUV’s Act I.5. Similar to last year, there will be 14 days of women-authored (and focused) content on our site in partnership with Love Positive Women. The cloth heart project started in Brasil on World AIDS Day 2019 during the 3rd annual São Paulo AIDS Walk. Designer, George Ferraz created 100 cloth hearts made of two different styles of African fabric each (see here for more info). These were distributed to anyone who wanted one during the AIDS Walk. George sent the design to Oma Elzubair in Khartoum (Sudan) and she will offer a similar gesture by distributing 100 cloth hearts to women–embroidered with ‘love positive women’ in Arabic–in Khartoum during Love Positive Women 2020. Oma gathered a team of women–Sherif Hussien, Randa Mursal, and Fatima Alameen–to support a series of actions locally in Khartoum, which begin during Love Positive Women 2020. 

Working with Fatima, the team will engage medicine students in person and the Arab Trainers College through an online network. Oma feels that the initial response warrants a long-term support group for HIV+ folks, family members, friends and lovers. They have already named it محتاج / ة أتكلم إيجابي! (I Need to Talk +), and Oma will blog about it in the coming weeks, including one update during LPW 2020 and the local Khartoum events. After learning about the relationship between criminalization of HIV and local perceptions of adultery, Oma began to consider a longer-term response. Her vision is to mobilize ‘a full network of people who make the HIV+ people and AIDS patients’ lives more better’. During LPW 2020, there will be a workshop about AIDS/HIV+ in Sudan’s main women’s prison where the cloth hearts will be used. Additionally, they will print 500 specially-designed cards (like telegrams) with hand-written, positive affirmations for other events and groups. At the prison, they will deliver the hearts and play the LUV game. Designer Adham Bakry (who made up the LUV game from his studio in Port Said) will create a new sign for LPW in Arabic (أحبوهن إيجابيات‎) and send to Oma in Khartoum for branding her events. 

At the same time there will be events in both NYC and São Paulo. When posed with the idea of a LPW event in NYC, New York-based, Brasilian artist Thiago Correia Gonçalves suggested a celebration of Iemanjá, the saint of fishers. This will happen on February 9th in Brooklyn and is called ‘Bobo for [LUV] Iemanjá’ (more info soon). Thiago is making a special poster for this. And, since there are some cultural / queer spaces in his other hometown of São Paulo participating, he offered to make a second poster edition in Portuguese that will be featured in esponja (and other spaces) for the duration of LPW 2020. George will make more cloth hearts and along with the Iemanjá poster, he will help to style the participating cultural spaces in São Paulo. The São Paulo municipal secretary of human rights (LGBTI unit) will help to publicize the holiday both locally and through the Latin America Rainbow Cities network.

Soon we’ll have a list of all 14 contributors for the LPW 2020 online series. One special contribution is the serialization of a women-authored play considering local HIV conditions in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe facilitated by LUV partner, Nhimbe Trust. Nhimbe Trust is a Zimbabwean non-profit non-governmental organisation that works at the intersection of culture and development to foster local socio-economic development. Nhimbe’s development programmes in the arts and culture sector have consistently contributed to structural action in youth and women empowerment initiatives. Nhimbe is committed to pioneering work that defends freedom of artistic expression in Zimbabwe.

The title of the play MAIDEI.
And, that’s Act I.5!


The LUV game is a part of Luv ’til it Hurts. The idea is based on a game played around the world called Exquisite Corpse. It’s a non-competitive game that can be played with only two people as well as a large group. The game is super easy. A new design or ‘visual work’ is made each time people play the game together. The LUV game simply offers an excuse to talk about HIV and stigma in a range of settings from museum to public space or even on the street. The game idea came up when I asked a young design time in Port Said (Egypt) to help me communicate the values and goals of Luv ’til it Hurts. The LUV game launched officially in Bogotá and Grenoble in late October; will have another run during São Paulo’s December 1st AIDS Walk, and will be available online the same day, World AIDS Day 2019.

A 23-year old designer, Saouf suggested the basic ’tile’ form (within his interpretation of the Exquisite Corpse game) as a variable form that can be used individually–as a sticker on the back of a laptop in a busy Cairo cafe–in a recognizable way yet one that does not always ‘scream’ HIV. From the beginning, the making of the LUV game has been a multi-layered process of working with old friends; incorporating new ideas from artists and others; as well as considering safety and wellness in relation to the yet urgent need for dialogue on HIV and stigma. Also by popularizing the overall design of the game and the individual tiles, we are enacting a branding strategy that ‘gets ready’ for the next phase of Luv ’til it Hurts … and ultimately unearthing HIV-related stigmas! An old friend and senior designer, Adham Bakry developed the game idea. This is also important. Luv ’til it Hurts is asking people who may not encounter HIV in their daily lives to get involved. To become allies. While perhaps hard to see, it is one of the most rewarding parts of making LUV.