Horsecross Arts and Perth College, UHI are, once again, collaborating on the curating and staging of an annual student exhibition for World AIDS Day (Friday 1 December).
This is the fifth year that the two Perth organisations have worked together on an exhibition exploring the global AIDS pandemic and the widespread HIV stigma.
Entitled #LetsEndIt, this year’s exhibition features new site-specific installations alongside artworks on paper, canvas and screens by 60 students in Year 1 and 2 of Contemporary Art Practice and Visual Communications at Perth College, UHI. #LetsEndIt opens on Tuesday, 28 November at 5pm at Threshold artspace in Perth Theatre and Perth Concert Hall.
The exhibition preview is free and everyone is welcome. It includes live performances, guided tours, outdoor illuminations, artists’ talks and a book signing event. The 5th annual student AIDS exhibition is curated by Alex Kershaw, Iliyana Nedkova, Simon Reekie and Helen Roger.
The #LetsEndIt exhibition will continue until Tuesday, 5 December with free admission and free guided tours by the exhibiting student artists. The exhibition is open Monday to Saturday 9am-6pm (or late on performance evenings) at Threshold artspace, Perth Theatre and Perth Concert Hall.
The title of this year’s exhibition #LetsEndIt is inspired by the national Let's End It campaign advocating to end HIV transmission, to end stigma, to end isolation. Just like the previous four annual exhibitions, #LetsEndIt explores the relationship between contemporary art and political activism posing the question – could a student exhibition in a regional museum impact the nation-wide activism campaign?
#LetsEndIt is also part of the lighting up red campaign for World AIDS Day. The external lights on the newly redeveloped and restored Perth Theatre will glow bright red for the first day of the #LetsEndIt exhibition and again on Friday 1 December.
Iliyana Nedkova, co-curator of #LetsEndIt and creative director for contemporary art for Horsecross Arts, the creative organisation behind Perth Concert Hall and Perth Theatre said:
“As part of #LetsEndIt exhibition, the outside screen on Perth Theatre’s new facade will host an artist’s film for the first time. This is part of our commissioning and museum acquisition programme which we have pioneered and managed since 2005 across the 30 + screens and as many gallery walls of the Threshold artspace.
“The new artwork Positive Negative (2017) will display striking portraits of activists from ACT UP London and STOP AIDS. You will also see a self-portrait of the Estonian British artist and activist Mare Tralla who initiated the artwork. Tralla is an active member of these diverse group of individuals united in anger and committed to direct action to end the HIV pandemic.
“I feel very privileged to have curated Tralla’s works and exhibitions since 1997 including her highly acclaimed ‘artivism’ masterclass for creative industries students at Perth College, UHI last year. I am also so proud that Tralla felt that the Perth College students and the cultural professionals at Horsecross Arts should be invited to participate in Positive Negative alongside the activists. This will be the first opportunity to see this latest addition to our unique collection of contemporary art at #LetsEndIt exhibition preview.”
The #LetsEndIt exhibition launch also features another special guest – the eminent, award-winning choreographer Stuart Hopps. He was last seen on the stage of Threshold artspace, Perth on Sunday, 16 October 2016 performing his play My Name is Margaret Morris to a standing ovation as part of Movement – the weekend of artists’ films, dance, drama, music and photography dedicated to the grand dame of contemporary dance, Margaret Morris. Hopps has also worked on many major feature films, including The Wicker Man with Robin Hardy, Sense and Sensibility with Ang Lee, and Much Ado About Nothing with Kenneth Branagh. He has produced work for Scottish Opera, Welsh National Opera, the Royal Opera and has worked for both the RSC and the National Theatre.
Stuart Hopps said:
“I am very pleased to be re-visiting Perth so soon after Movement and to be lending my humble support for the #LetsEndIt exhibition. This time I am bringing the Scottish premiere of my debut novel Rainbow Conspiracy (Muswell Press, 2017). The Rainbow Conspiracy is a gay thriller set mainly in the US. Although my story ends in 1984, it also harks back to the 'swinging sixties' and 'sparkling seventies', and traces the development of the power of the pink dollar up until its decline in the mid-eighties. This occurred as the result of the rapid spread of AIDS, killing off a large percentage of the affluent gay male community.
“I hope that my story will inspire Perth college students and anyone who may join us for this Scottish launch and book signing of Rainbow Conspiracy made possible through #LetsEndIt exhibition in association of Waterstones Perth and my publishers Muswell Press.”
As part of the co-curatorial team, Simon Reekie, Programme and Course Leader of Contemporary Art Practice at Perth College, UHI, said:
“I am very pleased that for the first time in the five-year history of our annual students exhibitions to mark the World AIDS Day, we will be able to continue our collaboration with Horsecross Arts and build upon the success of the ‘artivism’ masterclass with Mare Tralla. These annual exhibitions continue to inspire our students to explore issues of socially-engaged contemporary art practice which often include strong statements made through artist’s films, installations, photography and political campaign design.
“I am also particularly pleased to see that our Perth College, UHI alumni Kaya-Lana Fraser and Amy Butler are exhibiting as part of the current survey exhibition Women at Threshold artspace, Perth Concert Hall. Their respective artist’s films Bitter Sweet (2016) and Nurture Trust Protection (2016) won the acquisition award at the 4th student AIDS exhibition last year. They have earned their place in the unique collection of contemporary art held in trust for the public at Threshold artspace. I hope that people will pop along to see them alongside this year’s #LetsEndIt exhibition”