and Stories from Ethiopia: 1 | 2
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Guerilla Art to Fight AIDS in Ethiopia'
December 11, 2002
Ethiopian British artist and his partner, an artist from New York introduce
radical art tactics to raise AIDS awareness for World AIDS day 2002 in
For World AIDS day, LIFESIGNS an AIDS awareness art organization, orchestrated
a caravan of camels painted with AIDS symbols in a student parade through
the town of Axum. The artists and LIFESIGNS members grabbed cans of red
spray paint and stenciled giant AIDS ribbons on the sides of each camel.
(The international symbol of AIDS, the red ribbon, was originally designed
by VisualAIDS, LIFESIGNS fiscal sponsor in America) The directors developed
the idea from a brainstorm session on how to raise AIDS awareness with
the nomadic peoples of the dessert Afar region of Ethiopia. Their commitment
to working with indigenous resources resulted in the camel caravan concept.
The project focuses on preventing HIV through public art. Art murals have
a long history as a catalyst for social change. The two directors, Simon
Desta Ransom and Angie Eng, both professional artists, advocate public
art as effective daily reminders required to change behavior.
With the sponsorship of the Lionís Association of Sacramento, LIFESIGNS
purchased over 125,000 condoms to be distributed freely to customers of
local small pensions, bars and clubs.
Possible future guerilla art activities for AIDS awareness include painting
on outdoor rock mountains along main transport routes and constructing
giant AIDS ribbons within the dried crops of farm fields which can be
seen from above the mountainous roads.
LIFESIGNS will continue to create art murals with students in Ethiopia
throughout 2003. With the sponsorship of an American art foundation, mediaThe
inc. they will implement art murals in Mekele this month. LIFESIGNS is
a project in partnership with VisualAIDS, a not-for-profit organization
striving to increase AIDS awareness through the arts.
ëWhen you are dealing with limited resources, limited access to media
and social conservatism, it is necessary to encourage creative alternative
methods of providing people with vital information which can save their
life from the HIV virus. Art will force people to stop, look and listen.í
Angie Eng, Director of LIFESIGNS
Me with Shikat villagers. Don't I look gigantic!
Simon on his horse outside Shikat village
Scraping the extra dirt? off a Lalibela temple