Public projection and spectacle collaboration between Mikiki & Alexander McClelland
****This is not a trigger warning, this is our lives: presentation contains graphic discussions of various forms of violence****
As a collaboration between artist Mikiki and doctoral student Alexander McClelland this work pieces together media reports and juridical documents so as to understand how people’s lives are discursively constructed into cases, cases where individual people with HIV are transformed and come only to be known as ‘risks’ in need of care, control, regulation, surveillance, and incapacitation. In such cases, legal documents and media reports construct histories, histories in the service of an institutional logic that this at odds with the lives of people living with HIV. Rather than engaging in the normative debates presenting ‘innocent’ subjects in contrast to the ‘guilty’ mark of institutions, this collaborative work aims to understand the materiality of being marked as a ‘criminal’ and a ‘risk’ to public safety, and how hypervisibility is a tool used by state and private sector institutions to govern and create a public panic around HIV.
As a growing phenomenon in Canada – one that is disproportionate in scope to other countries– the expansion of legal governance of HIV is part of a fast growing trend in Canada, where there have been upwards of 185 criminal law cases since 1989 related to exposure or non-disclosure of HIV. Cases are on the rise, with high rates of prosecution for aggravated sexual assault charges that with a mandatory registration as a sex offender and sentence of up to life in prison. In these cases people’s photographs are plastered across media outlets with sensationalized headlines condemning the person with HIV as a criminal, vector of disease and dangerous, reckless and irresponsible person.
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