John Walter’s “Alien Sex Club” Installation Addresses HIV Today

by CaroPosted on

When British artist John Walter walked into a sex club a few years ago, he was surprised by the connection he made with people there. In this place where people pay money to walk around naked in search of companionship or to have sex with people they have never met before, he realized that there was a special power in it. It had the potential to entice and entertain, making it the perfect basis for his project “Alien Sex Club.” Walter is firstly a painter, drawing references from high and low culture, which he then applies to his environment in wild and engaging installations. Humor, camp, as well as hospitality, are central to his ability to engage viewers in the themes that he wants to discuss. In “Alien Sex Club”, that subject is one of his most taboo- HIV among gay men. In Walter’s native UK, it remains under-reported that gay men remain one of the groups most at risk of HIV. His installation uses the concept of a “cruise maze”, used as a metaphor for achieving trance‑like states, risk and addiction. The maze connects artwork ranging from painting, animation, film, to performance art that all address the issue of contemporary health. Recently running at Liverpool’s Homotopia Festival, “Alien Sex Club” hosts fortune-telling performances, free rapid HIV testing for visitors and a series of public events that aim to help audiences understand HIV. Walter can only hope that his carnival-like approach will attract audiences enough to get them involved in this difficult issue more deeply.

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