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arcHIV. A Search for Traces

5. August 2021

Vernissage: August 19, 2021, 7 PM (with translation into German Sign Language)
Exhibition: August 20,2021 – February 7, 2022

The Schwules Museum was founded in West-Berlin in 1985 – in the middle of a media-driven panic around AIDS which occupied the Federal Republic of Germany. For years to come, this historical context heavily influenced the collection and exhibition history of the institution – from “Infektiös” (Engl.: “Infectious”) (1992/93) to “Intimacy” (2020/21).

The art collection contains selected works; the library’s catalogue on “HIV/Aids” encompasses thousands of programmatic books, brochures, newspaper articles, videos, audio files as well as leaflets, flyers, and ephemera of all kinds. Furthermore, the museum’s archive keeps significant estates and pre-mortem bequests – some reviewed, some virtually untouched – of famous artists and activists as well as many unknown individuals.

“arcHIV. A Search for Traces” explores the diversity of the museum’s collections. What stories can be told from existing materials? What are the “traces” of groups, topics and narratives and experiences of HIV and AIDS that have received little or less attention in the practices of collecting and exhibiting?

A first section on “archiving,” “exhibiting” and “categorising” looks at these practices. The thematic main section deals with the complexes of “law,” “activism,” “dying,” “hope,” “faces,” and “bodies.”

Curators: Maria Bormuth, Eugen Januschke, Heiko Pollmeier, Heiner Schulze, Todd Sekuler

Supported with funds from the Hannchen-Mehrzweck-Stiftung and the Senate Department for Culture and Europe