EXHIBITION AT GALLERY WIDMERTHEODORIDIS, ZURICH, 2008
"Negativ-Positiv" confronts the viewer eye to eye. My work is a visual attempt to take away the stigma of the HI-virus, of the disease known as AIDS. Whether it is successful, depends on the viewer’s will to face this confrontation. The encounter with my models’ steadfast gazes raises many questions, first of all: "Negative? Positive?" There is no escape into numbers, statistics, and visible certainties. This series of portraits is my documentation of a given situation, my way of giving the status quo a face. "Negativ-Positiv" consists of 78 portraits, originating in conversations with my models about their sexuality. The pictures continue these dialogues by means of the camera. Talking – not only about sexuality (who, how, and how often with whom?) – but also about responsibility, respect, self-confidence and self-betrayal. The portraits result from the hope that the models would offer me a liberated, honest gaze after the conversations. Ideally, there is a trajectory from the sitter, mediated by my gaze and the camera, reaching the viewer looking at the developed pictures. "Negativ-Positiv" doesn’t visualize HIV, but brings it into the open, into the public. It sets the portrayed traces of our conversations into public space, without robbing the sitters of their privacy. Not moralizing but questioning responsibility because a virus doesn’t know of moral standards.
Text by Michael Vögtlin, Master of Arts in Design and freelance dramatic adviser and Gerhard Hintermann