WHITE [hope]

The first thing I want to say is ‘thank you’ to all the people–artists, non-artists, poz and negative folks–who took part in Luv ’til it Hurts for the past two-plus-years. While I’m still putting final touches on both RED & BLACK, I would like the last words on the site (and perhaps the first to be read) to be these: THANK YOU !!!

A simple color wheel confirms that WHITE is a symbol of ‘hope.’  Given 2020 and COVID-19, hope is in high demand. Sometimes white does not offer hard borders, and that is one way of imagining hope … just knowing that something hard to reach is also impossible to touch may neutralize a certain strain of fear. 

Somewhere on this site, I speak of a one-year ‘post period’ for the estimated two-year Luv ’til it Hurts project. When I wrote this, I was already at a point of reconsidering this aspect of my methodology and how its rhetoric seemed confusing to some of the stakeholders I hoped to attract to the project. Maybe before I would have said ‘recruit’ to the project in keeping with another methodological refrain concerning ‘access to multiple stakeholders’. You see one of my goals in making one last ‘durational, multi-stakeholder, rights-focused project’ was to both clearly articulate the methodology I’ve used on freeDimensional and Lanchonete.org up to and throughout the making of Luv ’til it Hurts … and for this, I achieved my goal. I now have the notes and reflections needed (in draft form) to interrogate, share, and invite feedback on what I consider to be the artist methodology I use. 

Different from freeDimensional and Lanchonete.org, Luv ’til it Hurts focused on a disease or embodied condition that I have and therefore it is unlikely that the ‘world’ of Luv ’til it Hurts and HIV will end after a prescribed two-year period by me. But, please understand that’s how I needed to frame the work in order to approach it with a customary naiveté (relatable to affect and gesture while not wholly methodological) that is required for ‘worldmaking.’ Let’s call it R&D or the research phase. I relate this ‘naiveté’ to something Dutch artist Lino Hellings told me about her use of ‘stereotypes’ in the beginning of a project, when entering a new space, public or community. And, for me, the risk would have been to ‘not apply’ my methodology to the final project, perhaps thinking I know what will happen and skipping a step. I resisted this urge for over two years during the LUV project. But since I could see early on that the personal nature of the theme more readily exposed the semantics of duration, I both used the milestones and goalposts I’d set out while simultaneously (and up close) considering their flaws. I hope that I put much less pressure on these milestones for the public of the project (its different tiers of stakeholders), but I must say the relatively short timeframe of the initial project increased pressure on my ability to both ‘lead’ and document the project. So I’m also happy these two-plus-years (July 2018-December 2020) are over.

So before my fake-farewell to the all-immersive-forever-project of LUV, let me remember the influence of US artist Eric Rhein, an artist based in NYC and living with HIV for over 30 years. He set an example for me that I plan to write about in the future. Also, the original Luv ’til it Hurts logo is by Adham Bakry as is the LUV Game, which introduced Exquisite corpse–as technique, method and aesthetic–to the overall process. EXQUISITE CORPSE expography is by Jakub Szczęsny. Every Where Alien’s poetics + pandemics, sample biograms and a Logo Poem are by Brad Walrond. Game of Swarm logic and website design are by Paula Nishijima. The R&D phase was launched by Todd Lanier Lester who also designed the LUV Fund. And Sebastien Sanz de Santamaria helped launch the Luv ’til it Hurts project in 2018 and coded the new LUV site in 2020!

And, lastly, thanks to Paula Querido Van Erven for helping me hold all the details together!

*See HIV-related activities in relation to Lanchonete.org: Arte, Saúde Pública e Estratégias de enfrentamento à Epidemia da Aids and Vidas/corpos com HIV.

RED [luv]

In WHITE I exclaimed how nice it was nice to put the final touches on the LUV archive in December only 6 months after the ‘official’ closing in July 2020, but three months have now passed and this one particular RED piece resists being finished … perhaps because it’s the only outstanding element on the entire RED site [**a new LUV site was erected on World AIDS Day, December 1 2020. During the 2010 ResArtis general assembly at Tokyo Wonder Site the Singaporean director Ong Keng Sen said something to the effect that ‘artists are concerned with starting things, and their closure is not something the artist must always consider’. In the context of his speech, this notion made perfect sense to me. Perhaps because I was looking for additional justification for moving on from a ten-year pursuit providing safety measures for artists-in-distress to a five-year site-specific endeavor in São Paulo called Lanchonete.org.  I don’t make works that a collector can purchase, so the idea of finishing a work isn’t so much about its monetization for me. I suspect however that this ‘knowing when it’s finished’ is common across artistic mediums regardless of their commodity.  

A durational work (like those I’ve been a part of) will have an afterlife or ‘post period’. By this I mean that maintenance will be needed for a period of time beyond the ‘official’ 10, 5 or 2-year length of the project.  Since the first one–called freeDimensional–I’ve known that a lot can happen after the official- and post-periods. Conversely, this expiration and notion of obsolescence (staying open to being ‘outgrown’, including ‘stepping down’ when there is no linear or clear transition of leadership) is essential for wild, exponential expansion … we just don’t get to know before taking the risk of letting go in which directions it spreads, if at all.  

Dates are just dates afterall. December 1 2020–when we launched the new site designed by Paula Nishijima–is one of the most important of the project however. I mention in Bienal Party that my stream of consciousness informs the LUV project. The story of hurt as a level of luv and outlet for pain started there…in that stream of consciousness. To curtail this dominance, we agreed that Paula would view materials on the RED archive site and select those articles that would be repeated on the new group site

I’m very, very lucky that other artists wanted to join this momentum and hone what had been forged of pain.  I can be honest that one of the functions of making this project (for me) was to expel the sort of pain I discuss in BLACK. I went into the project knowing that I’d need to keep a balance between this personal and some more universally applicable value propositions. 

And now, LUV is a project that conspires to be set free!

*See HIV-related activities in relation to Lanchonete.org: Arte, Saúde Pública e Estratégias de enfrentamento à Epidemia da Aids and Vidas/corpos com HIV.

BLACK [strength]

“Initiated by Lanchonete.org and ArtsEverywhere/Musagetes, the Cidade Queer program was a broad collective inquiry into how can we understand the contemporary city through a queer, intersectional, non-normative lens. The program included a series of encounters, dinners, residencies, and performances, and “Cidade Queer, uma Leitora” reconfigures these moments into a new form, extending the inquiry trans-nationally.”


On the same color wheel as WHITE and RED, BLACK symbolizes strength. 

The above-language is precursor to an essay on the ArtsEverywhere website, entitled Can a mestizo asshole speak? loaned by Jota Mombaça (as well as others) during Cidade Queer, an episode of Lanchonete.org

I learned I am HIV+ in June 2015 having just moved from NYC to São Paulo the year before in order to lead Lanchonete.org, which had a five-year focus on ‘The Right to the City’ and unbeknownst to me was the 2nd in a three-project series of durational, multistakeholder, rights-focused artworks. What I mean is that I didn’t yet know that Luv ’til it Hurts–a two year focus on HIV & stigma–would be the next and last. For sure I considered moving back to NYC when I learned my HIV status in 2015, but I felt (and feel) that stopping mid-artwork would have negatively affected my mental health more so than dealing with the initial shock of the diagnosis in a foreign country. Lanchonete.org had several different ‘episodes’ focusing on themes ranging from Haitian migration to the housing and urban green movements. Our most sprawling episode was Cidade Queer, a concept I’d been working on before we knew it could happen site-specifically in São Paulo thru Lanchonete.org. I named-it-and-framed-it and then took to a funder who I’d worked with over the prior decade on various pursuits; the foundation is called Musagetes and at this point I was on staff part-time as Director of Partnerships and co-conceived the foundation’s ArtsEverywhere web platform, which was basically the ‘new face’ of the Blackberry-funded outfit. Under this arrangement, we agreed that Cidade Queer would be a joint output of Lanchonete.org and ArtsEverywhere, and that my work on AE would be seen as artistic output–considering aesthetic (site functionality / artworks and voices on site), publishing (editorial and journalistic experience), and my signature rhizomatic workstyle … something the foundation director had grown to understand and value over our ten-year relationship. This is why so much of Lanchonete.org‘s content relating to Cidade Queer is on the AE site; before my engagement, Musagetes didn’t work in Brasil nor touch on HIV-related issues. Whilst I wasn’t quite ready to take-on HIV as a specific theme in my art practice, by 2016 I was actively looking at how I might come back to an issue I’d worked on for 20 years before being diagnosed myself. Cidade Queer touched on a range of queer/gender/orientation/urban/public health, community organizing and art angles thru a contiguous year of public events in São Paulo. These events bled over into 2017 when the Reader, a zine on Cuiabá, and an eponymous short film were released across a series of closing events. Work with AE/Musagetes subsidized my ability to live in São Paulo and work on Lanchonete.org. In 2017 I travelled 8 times internationally–going somewhere for the foundation or retrofitting personal opportunities into publicity opportunities for the new AE platform–and on one of those trips I forgot my meds. My contract came up for renewal at the end of 2017 and we began negotiations around September when I decided to disclose my HIV status to my gay, male boss. I asked for a compensation package that included health insurance during such trips. Within a month I was stripped of position; pre-approved grants I made on behalf of the foundation were revoked; I was negotiated down on previous expenses owed; disinvited to an annual planning meeting I’d helped to plan; and generally excommunicated by the organization including former colleagues / friends I’d hired into the new AE project whilst Director of Partnerships. I was never told why.

Reposting Jota Mombaça’s essay and other AE-affiliated articles is a way to reclaim some of the darkened territory I felt cleaved from by this particular chain of events … and, I really luv the understanding set forth by ‘Can a mestizo asshole speak?’ Thanks Jota! Cidade Queer was also invited for a weeklong series of events during Quito Pride in 2017, which generated additional texts. See below for a complete list of Cidade Queer-related pieces:

Can a mestizo asshole speak?

Looking for Lesbians


Cruising Quito: Notes on Grindr, Queer Codes, and Post-AIDS

On Pedagogical Turns and the Use of Time

Waiting for the After-Effects of Documenta 14 in Athens

1986 An Elegy for Our Coldest War

A Re-Imagination of Policy and Health (2 of 2)

What Does a Queer Urban Future Look Like?

*See HIV-related activities in relation to Lanchonete.org: Arte, Saúde Pública e Estratégias de enfrentamento à Epidemia da Aids and Vidas/corpos com HIV.

Bienal Party

As is stated prominently, LUV is an HIV ‘scrapbook of sorts’ and as such influenced by my stream of consciousness, as well as that of other key participants. Basically anything that happened within the past three years is fair game to consider HIV against. 

Back during Cidade Queer we worked on HIV issues, trans issues and issues that cut across both. One might ask if HIV is a trans issue, and I would argue that it is…and that public health systems must urgently advance in ways to address this overlap. However, explaining that connection is not what this article is about.  Recently I was thinking how important and fun the 2016 ATAQUE ball was to co-organize and how impressive the ballroom community is in São Paulo.  There are many things I’m excited to do after COVID lifts, and one of them is to produce another party, festa or ball. In fact, I have a nascent concept in mind (codeword ‘Bienal Party’).

It just so happens that I got married during the period of Luv ’til it Hurts … 9 November 2019 to be exact. That night we went with friends to Festa Mel (honey), and they even mentioned our nuptials in advance social media. We waited in line like everyone else, yet there were three stragglers from our wedding party who arrived later and in the interim the line grew quite long … it would be an hour before they got in.  I asked Aretha Sadick–friend and drag persona–to help me negotiate their entry. Night characters are often allowed to pass the line and enter for free because they bring aesthetic energy and sass to the party. These parties make quite a bit of money at the door, and it can be argued that the presence of fashionable, well-known nite-folk is part of the value a regular festa-goer is paying for. These characters are often trans and non-binary queer folk. When Aretha and I went to chat with the door staff, they told her in no uncertain terms that she was not a part of ‘them’ (referring to the collective that makes the party). It turned out ok–as I was otherwise persistent–and what stood out most was the facile, shifty influence afforded to Queen Aretha whilst she and her contemporaries lend considerable cache to the event. It got me thinking ‘hey these nite-folk deserve better in return for their fabulousness and should be compensated with money rather than facile, shifty influence’.

This in turn led to an idea called ‘Bienal Party’. The event is totally run by newer nite-folk rather than establishment party promoters, with door sales split evenly across its select team after expenses. For my part, it’s a one-off experiment, yet it may forge a reusable template needed to interrupt the political economy of the nite.  Whilst I don’t want to give away the full plotline here, I can say that my wishlist venue is Yacht on 13 de Maio in Bixiga. 

A blade of grass (instead of a video)

[*In Some remarks before I make the video, I say I’ll make a video for the launch of E&H Lab‘s CHAOS project. Instead I decided to reconsider some ‘grant language’ from the recent Luv ’til it Hurts process. — xo Todd]

Perhaps this piece should be termed ‘denouement to funders’ or ‘divorce in funder-land’, but these thoughts were gathered originally for a short ‘video letter’ to the CHAOS project (Paris) on mental health … which I never made. What eventually brought these two themes of ‘funding’ and ‘mental health’ together was a question on a grant application for the LUV project in which I was asked if I’m ‘handicapped’ and if I’m ‘neurodivergent’. I reluctantly checked one or both in that instance, but didn’t get the money. This is beside the point. I deeply considered whether having HIV rendered me handicap, whether being manic-depressive rendered me neurodivergent, and whether HIV cross-pollinated to compound neurodivergence. 

I was at once happy to see a word referring specifically and kindly to mental health, and knowing people inside the foundation wondered if they would concur with how I checked the boxes. Which, again, is beside the point. 

The LUV project had the luxury of a $50k start-up grant from the Ford Foundation, which was regranted to HIV activists around the world. Whilst we’ve needed more money during the two-years of LUV’s R&D phase–during which the LUV GameExquisite Corpse & Luv Fund$ were developed–most of its building came from the ‘sweat equity’ of its participants. After 20-odd years of fundraising for big artworks that play out in social contexts, I see writing grant applications as a huge waste of time. One might receive one-out-of-ten grants requested, and this erodes focus and time resources that can otherwise be used in direct action. But this is me … just my opinion. Sometimes when I don’t agree with the grant decision, I contact the grantmaker and try to engage in constructive communication towards a fruitful end (please, give me the money:), but this only works on the odd occasion. Given what I say in BLACK [strength], I’m rather committed to philanthropic reform, and Notes on Starfucking gets to some of these points, but from a different angle. 

With all my heart I still believe (after almost three years) that the LUV project will generate a dynamic, functioning philanthropic device, which rather than asking for grants, will augment present resources available to artists and activists working on HIV and stigma. Stay tuned!!

Homage to a working group

Luv ’til it Hurts was at first a two-year project, and is now something much more. I admit that I don’t want to limit its future potential by saying what it is/isn’t or what it’s become. However, there are three ways to clearly ‘see it’. In a recent grant application, I described our group of three coordinators (Brad Walrond, Paula Nishijima & myself) as a ‘working group’. Brad suggested ‘The Work Group’ instead, and the name seems to have stuck. A traveling group show called EXQUISITE CORPSE has been conceived by The Work Group. And, I continue to develop the LUV Fund, an apparatus to deliver faster resources to HIV-related cultural activism, as well as to acknowledge the role of the artist in public health & social movements pertaining to HIV/AIDS. With such a lofty title as The Work Group, it is incumbent on us to say what we do. Our new website is forthcoming, and that explains us rather well. In the meantime, I’ve taken ‘a stab’ at explaining who we are and what we do:


Luv ‘til it Hurts is a work group composed of Brad Walrond, Paula Nishijima & Todd Lanier Lester. Its outputs are collectively authored. 

LUV ‘til it Hurts is action research, insomuch as a methodological discussion transpires amongst artists pertaining to curating, institutional critique, mutual aid and general peership. 

It’s a constituency inviting others working on HIV and health to join their issues in a new configuration. We use this mothership as omnibus for visiting other hurts and stigmas such as those newly afoot with COVID-19. However, ‘pandemics’ is not a theme we wish to be limited by in the future.

It is a gesture to art institutions desiring their socially-engaged exhibits to come from deep dialogues with frontline activists … and in this way, it is also a feedback loop.  


  • Understanding artist-led activism by examining its process (e.g. interviews, site visits, collaborative productions) in order that such intimacy is reflected in both the exhibition and archiving of works; 
  • Making EXQUISITE CORPSE, an exhibition of approximately 20 international artists working on HIV & Stigma. Envisioned as a traveling show for which each new encounter stimulates a ‘swarm-like’ evolution of the show and expansion of the archive, EXQUISITE CORPSE invites local artists and activists to help tailor the show’s public programme for their ‘home turf’;
  • Considering the financial and political economies of art exhibition, EXQUISITE CORPSE proposes a ‘venue network’ through which both expography costs and lessons learned may be shared; 
  • Applying techniques and tools from their individual practices, the WORK GROUP encourages rhizomatic offshoots from the overall EXQUISITE CORPSE process (e.g. R&D, online extension, archiving, co-authored texts, venue network, community engagement, public progarmme- & exhibition-making) whereby one set of interactions generates the next. Game of Swarms, Every Where Alien’s Poetics + Pandemics open mic series and The LUV Fund are all examples;
  • Using technology to sidestep / undo / backmask algorithms that mimic market desires and further entrench dominant cultural precepts.


  • A draft proposal that explains our work and can be tailored to host institutions (for EXQUISITE CORPSE) and/or foundations, which can support our ‘work’;
  • A suite of administrative documents to include, but not limited to a venue list, foundation list, and budget samples;
  • An online dashboard and filing system; this includes calendar, artist portfolios, collectively-authored texts, and design tools (such as LUV letterhead).


LUV Fund$

Image: PogoLand

As early as the 1st ‘About’ page: A discussion to be accountable to, the creation of a ‘philanthropic device’ was mentioned, and again in an interview with the Think Twice Collective. Most often over the course of LUV’s first two years, this idea of raising funds for artists and activists working on HIV related stigmas referred to an idea that (after its R&D phase) could be offered to the Elton John AIDS Foundation. And, while this is still the case (or can be), LUV has also been star-fucking around with a couple other artists who have do-good organizations in which a prefab philanthropic device might be nestled. Either way, the apparatus I speak of is conceived for ‘give away’. Recently I’ve begun referring to this ‘philanthropic device’ as the LUV Fund in order to differentiate it from other LUV byproducts, such as the LUV Game and/or EXQUISITE CORPSE, a traveling group show. These items, can of course, work in tandem. There’s a Work Group (composed of Brad Walrond, Paula Nishijima & Todd Lanier Lester) that meets weekly to plan future LUV work, and on several occasions I’ve explained that while energy was given early on to exhibiting the works of artists working on HIV (e.g. Luv Till It Hurts by Kairon Liu), I did not anticipate a traveling group show as what would come next. I luv it, but I didn’t see it coming! And, as for the ‘philanthropic device’, whatever LUV does, it has to do that too!!

Presently I have an idea for integration of the LUV Fund into the EXQUISITE CORPSE show … but not only. The ‘rad purple poster’ (above) is a first draft of the LUV Fund gameplan that I’m working on with Brasilian artist, PogoLand. I’m sure there will be ‘tweaks and tugs’ that change its course over the next few weeks, but wanted to share its tenets as I understand them (like how would it make money?), and also offer it to the LUV show as an artist-made broadsheet, which can carry other info on the traveling / evolving show by printing and using its backside. Here goes in no particular order:

(1) Expography for the traveling group show, EXQUISITE CORPSE has been designed by installation author, Jakub Szczęsny for scalability and cost-sharing across venues. Given potential savings by its ‘economy of scale’, each host institution may be asked to contribute to the LUV Fund;

(2) I’ve asked Jakub to design a special ‘LUV Fund$’ donation box along with the other containers that comprise the show’s expography;

(3) Some of the artists in the group show have works that can be merchandised broadly (online & gift shop);

(4) Other artists have works that can be packaged / offered as limited editions;

(5) Beside presenting works and processes of art in galleries and museums, LUV has a performer and speaker’s bureau, which brokers fair-pay fees for those involved (and modes of participation for artists and non-artists alike;

(6) After 20 years of asking foundations / philanthropy for money to make art projects, I realize that there are several ‘back doors’ that can be accessed IF an idea shifts ‘the paradigm’ … amongst grantmakers, power-brokering is rife, but this usually excludes potential grantees who sometimes sign or agree to ‘non-solicitation’ clauses when attending funder meetings, and for whom the experience is often hierarchical & upward-looking at that;

(7) Some of the ‘back doors to philanthropic power’ I mention above are on the small side, like asking a foundation executive to use his/her/their discretionary or expense fund to support an idea, but I prefer a bigger framework that includes ‘estate planning for the extremely wealthy’ … for example when Warren Buffet’s wife passed away and he decided to forego the eponymous foundation they’d been planning, he gifted and pre-bequeathed enormous sums of money to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation;

(8) Some of the artist-activists that LUV has met in the past two years have large online followings (here I’m speaking mostly of Instagram for which having 10,000 followers opens up avenues of marketing and income generation) … LUV is learning from these folks so that one day its own brand may have these opportunities to ‘influence’ and reap $ benefit in so doing;

(9) When a gallery sells an artist’s work, the gallery takes 50% and the artist gets 50%. It is conceivable that either a blue chip artist (who cares about HIV) or her/his/their gallery would forego this amount on (say) one work a year for a predetermined number of years. While the artist may not be able to do this, they/she/he may influence the gallery to do so;

(10) There is also a ‘nuclear option’ … I’m just not gonna tell ya what it is yet!

Remember, all these ‘cogs’ and ‘spokes’ don’t need to work at the same time for the LUV Fund to flourish. And, all artists involved would be paid first and/or be ‘first in line’ recipients of the LUV Fund. Well, let’s see …


[*My first project, freeDimensional created the Creative Resistance Fund, and my second project Lanchonete.org helped start Fundo Imobiliário Comunitário para Aluguel (FICA), with participating artists offering performances and services to raise the fund’s first 10,000 Reais.]

LUV, a timeline

Image by Sebastien Sanz de Santamaria

In January 2018 and speaking on freeDimensional, I was invited to give a co-keynote address on day two of the 10th Anniversary Celebration of the Centre for Applied Human Rights @ York University [see download]. And while I now realize the ‘second day’ programme (of thinkers from the art camp vs. the human rights camp) is not included in the ‘one day’ online history of this two-day event, this was the first time I mentioned being HIV+ from any type of stage, podium, pulpit, soapbox and/or dais. This is indeed where I first met Professor Maggie O’Neill

On the same trip, I went to Berlin and stayed with friends Julia and Bakri. I told them about the first idea for Luv ’til it Hurts, an uncharted project that did not yet even have a name. And, boasted that if I knew someone who could get me to Sir Elton John, I would know what to do next. As the words came out of my mouth, I realized that I knew this person already, a philanthropy figure in NYC. I drafted an email to him on the flight home. It was meant as a ‘soft approach’ and so I didn’t ask for an intro to Elton (not yet). The philanthropy figure’s response included $50k USD for beginning my experiment. This is when I decided to ‘include’ Luv ’til it Hurts as the third project in a ‘series’ of multistakeholder, rights-focused, durational works that began with freeDimensional and Lanchonete.org

With these resources, Luv ’til it Hurts took shape, and in July launched ‘officially’ at the 2018 International AIDS Conference in partnership with Taiwanese artist Kairon Liu and his project Humans as Hosts. This date set the opening ‘bookend’ in mid-2018, and I personally decided to make the project for two years (at first), thereby ‘bookending’ the project’s uncharted phase at the end June 2020. COVID-19 offered a major ‘bump in the road’, and yet here we are rolling-to-a-stop–refueling–and not so far off the forecasted mark. 

Before its official launch, the nascent LUV project was invited as special guests to a community gathering on HIV in Philadelphia by the Amber Art & Design collective. The May 24th programme [see download] was originally slated for the Hatfield House in the Strawberry Mansion area in which the collective works. When we arrived in Philadelphia we were told that the venue had changed to Amber’s studio (which was great), and that we would take a tour/ hang out on the porch of Hatfield House later at the end of the day. We learned that the theme of HIV had been enough to get our original programme bumped from the historic venue by some cautious board members. One of the most memorable details from the May 24th event, is the ‘fish banquet’ that Leticia (a friend of Sidd Joag visiting from NYC) prepared for our lunchtime discussion (See featured photo).
In August 2018, LUV created a second annual exchange between Ballroom leaders from São Paulo and NYC, with House of Zion-Brasil and Coletivo Amem members attending NYC’s Black Pride and the HouseLivesMatter convening. Residency Unlimited, which was our fiscal sponsor for the Ford Foundation grant provided to us by Darren Walker, hosted a meeting of Brad Walrond, Flip Couto, Felix Pimenta, Kairon Liu, Malaya Mañacop, Sebastien Sanz de Santamaria and others on August 20th [see download]. Both the May 24th and August 20th meetings were introductions. At this point I had only given the project a theme (HIV + stigma), duration (approximately 2 years), and name (Luv ’til it Hurts). I wanted to ask peers: Is it necessary? What can it do? & Does a whimsical specificity for its timeframe and particular ‘end goal’ (of engaging the Elton John AIDS Foundation with a unique idea) detract from its potential to attract co-makers?

From this August 2018 meeting, a January 2019 visit to São Paulo by Brad Walrond and Pony Zion co-hosted by LUV, Coletivo Amem, House of Zion-Brasil, Esponja and HouseLivesMatter when both Brad and Pony participated in the 3rd annual Vera Verão ball.

In the meantime LUV collaborated with Coletivo Amem, VisualAIDS, Esponja and Coletivos Coletores on a December 1 2018 World AIDS Day event. And right after the visit of Iconic Legend Pony Zion (Father of the House of Zion-international) to São Paulo (Jan. 2019), LUV hosted Legend Monster LaBeija during Carnival (Feb. 2019), a residency we co-made with Esponja, Casa1, Casa do Povo, Casa Florescer, Coletivo Arouchianos, etc.

In February 2019, LUV partnered with Love Positive Women, a 14 day annual holiday made by artist Jessica Lynn Whitbread for poz women … and partnered again for a second time with Love Positive Women in February 2020. See online content from both years HERE. The February 9th Bobó for Yemanjá event in NYC with Thiago Correia Gonçalves (another ‘fish banquet’) is another favorite LUV memory!

A lot of things happened over the first couple years of LUV, and these are some details that haven’t yet been highlighted on the RED site

If I had a bit more time…

Image by Todd Lanier Lester 

In Why Make an ‘Open Work’? I begin to discuss DURATION, and why a project like LUV would have an initial, formal (albeit arbitrary) two-year timeframe. 

Lately, I’ve been sifting through scraps of paper, contacts and ideas for articles. Luv ’til it Hurts is in the process of transforming itself into a new (and perhaps more concrete) form that will be fully explained by its forthcoming new site. Before I tie a bow on the ‘red’ (or archive) site, I wanted to reference a few of the ideas and contacts that come to mind as I look back on the past two years concentrated on HIV & stigma. For example, I remembered two pieces by Gian Spina, On Pedagogical Turns and the Use of Time (with Nikos Doulas) and Waiting for the After-Effects of Documenta 14 in Athens (with Jota Mombaça) I wanted to include. Some others are:

The image featured here is one I took at the São Paulo AIDS Day Walk (December 1 2019) of a project by Leandro Tupan that represents HIV+ bodies in cloth works and banners.

During the Somos process, I met members of COLETIVO GLEBA DO PÊSSEGO and saw their awesome short film Bonde about “three young black friends from the Heliópolis slum set out to seek refuge among the LGBT+ nightlife of downtown São Paulo.” In fact, I went up to one of the stars at a dance party (in the ‘downtown’) to tell them how much I liked their work!

Similar to COLETIVO GLEBA DO PÊSSEGO, I had hoped to interview Mexican artist Manuel Solano and Brazilian artist Mavi Veloso for the ‘red’ site as well. I hope to get to talk to them soon, and there are some great texts with them both in Ted Kerr’s WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW ABOUT AIDS COULD FILL A MUSEUM Curatorial ethics and the ongoing epidemic in the 21st Century, Issue #42 of ON CURATING.
The HIV Justice Network is a global information and advocacy hub for individuals and organisations working to end the inappropriate use of the criminal law to regulate and punish people living with HIV. Their site is great, and the best idea I have to honor them is to make them an honorary member of the LUV coalition. If they want it, THEY GOT IT! Thanks for your work HIV Justice Network!!

LUV is messy

LUV is messy, a can ‘o worms

… NO, rather a diorama encasing the heart, leaf, spaceship, firefly, hummingbird & ankh, symbols that advance its plot.

  1. The HEART symbol came first. It was carved into a tree at the same time as the words, Luv ‘til it Hurts. The spelling of luv was changed forever, and the buxom HEART became a megaphone–pumping loudly and emitting reverberations. Desirous of speed, its incumbent pangs, swarm-like, fragment into projectiles before taking flight.
  1. Some are docile like a LEAF, swaying not so far from the tree as it plummets and alights akimbo atop the galaxy. 
  1. Confused for magic carpets, an armada of over 300 leaves is best seen from one spectacular SPACESHIP with a glass-bottom viewing deck (license no. 00-1986).
  1. Small hovercraft break off the mothership, attached only by bloody umbilica … offal burns off at light-speed to reveal dart-shaped poetics with bright, anti-venom tips and soft names in each language: luciérnaga, vagalume, FIREFLY.
  1. Unlike asteroids these do not burn out, but intensify permanently as constellations, dayglo beacons–seen first by the scout, a lone warrior two-steps ahead, oft fell by one pandemic in order to forewarn of the next–the function of phoenix, yet shape of the HUMMINGBIRD.
  1. Pre-word symbol and sound of ‘life’, ANKH cannot be seen until a supernovae eclipses all other stars and the black-hot, negative space of its shadow augurs one single [+] lifeforce. 

*The symbols are an interface where the framework of one artist ends and that of another begins. The symbology is constructed from limited viewpoints and experiences–a mosaic of opposing accuracies–that segue between individual and collective.