By MOA Correspondent
AIDS is one of the most important global public health issues in recorded history. There are around two million deaths from AIDS each year, of which about 2,70,000 are children. Since the beginning of the epidemic, around 78 million people have been infected with the HIV virus.
World AIDS Day observed every year on December 1, is about increasing awareness, fighting stigma and improving education for the global response to HIV and AIDS.
United Nations Information Center (UNIC) for India and Bhutan in collaboration with Alliance Francaise de Delhi organised a series of engaging activities to observe World AIDS Day on Monday, December 1, 2014.
Aimed at initiating a dialogue with youth, the event was planned as an interaction involving artists, street theatre and film. One of the highlights of the event was the visual artists creating live works. Five artists – Ritu Kamath, Manmeet Devgan, Tahir Siddiqui, Biswajit Mandal and Seema Pandey – were invited to participate in this art event. Artists’ works touched upon various aspects related to AIDS like social stigma, need for social acceptance, pre-natal transmission of the virus, coming to terms with the disease, etc.
Five works produced in various mediums gave a strong message about the need to understand and empathise with the person living with AIDS.
Ritu Kamath’s work done in mixed media on paper is about various layers of thoughts, and incidences that we embrace as we move forward in life.
"Humans are complex species with layers of emotions and experiences, with complex minds, thoughts and personalities. The background is inked with a rhythmic pattern. This is a meditative activity that makes me compose myself into one thought. On the other hand the medium chosen for its translucency leaves images seen and unseen/ hidden and visible” says Ritu Kamath
In her performance ‘Embrace’ artist Manmeet Devgan used multani mitti (Fullers earth) on a paper and used strands of her hair to write ‘that which surfaces could or not be healed, let us embrace the sighs let out…’.
Manmeet says “Multani mitti is generally used as healing clay for skin. By cutting my hair and using the stands for writing the poem, I become a part of the work. The invisibility of the text portrays the hurt, pain, scars buried inside, suffering silently in dejection and isolation.”
Oussama Tawil, UNAIDS Country Coordinator, in his address highlighted on the efforts of UNAIDS in eradicating this global epidemic. He said “By 2030, we aim to eliminate mother to child transmission completely”, he added. Mother to child transmission is the third most common means of spreading the virus, after unsafe sexual intercourse and sharing needles and syringes.
Tahir Siddiqui too expressed his concern about an unborn child getting affected by this deadly virus. In his painting he represented an HIV infected foetus in womb. He said he chose to highlight an unborn child as it is very sad that the disease affects someone that is yet to come into this world.
Biswajit’s Painting was based on the thin red line weaving its way across the canvas through a needle and thread which formed an abstract body image. “It represents the duality of blood, shown through the colour red, which serves as both a lifeline and a symbol of danger”, says artists Biswajit Mandal.
Seema Pandey who also coordinated this event for UNIC chose to highlight the social stigma attached with the disease. She used knife to create her work, which focused on an affected persons psyche and used many layers to highlight the many veils under which HIV positive people are forced to hide.
There were films screening and theatre performances to reiterate the importance of involving the youth to address the issue. UNIC had also put up a stall with various materials on HIV/AIDS for public dissemination. At the closing ceremony of the eventful day artists presented their pieces to the audience which included Jean Philippe Bottin, Director, Alliance Francaise de Delhi, Kiran Mehra Kerpelman, director UN Information Centre for India and Bhutan and Oussama Tawil, UNAIDS Country Coordinator and Rajiv Chandran, National Information Officer at UNIC. There were students, working professionals, NGO representatives and media persons who came together in support of this cause and hoped that by 2030 we can have a world free from this disease.