A solemn celebration of freedom

January 27 2022

On 18 February 2022, the Henie Onstad Art Centre on Høvikodden near Oslo will open the exhibition entitled Every Moment Counts – AIDS and its Feelings. The exhibition will commemorate that 2022 marks 50 years since Norway decriminalised sex between men.

For those generations who were not yet adults in the 1980s, it may be difficult to imagine the stigma that characterised public discourse about homosexuality, making the world-wide AIDS epidemic especially hard on gay men. However, since the world is currently facing a deadly pandemic that has no regard for gender, identity or national borders, the discussions, experiences and human consequences of such a situation are more relevant than for many years. 2022 is not only another year characterised by the corona virus, it also marks that it has been 50 years since sex between men was decriminalised in Norway. The Henie Onstad Art Centre is commemorating this with an exhibition consisting of 200 works made by more than 60 artists who address the topics of HIV and AIDS.

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Donald Moffett, Call the White House, 1990. Reproduced with the permission of the artist's foundation, the Marianne Boesky Gallery of New York, and AspenGeneral Idea, One Month of AZT Ed. 2/2, 1991, Ringier Collection, Switzerland

Fritt Ord has provided NOK 500 000 in funding for several aspects of the extensive exhibition. First and foremost, the funding has been spent on a publication (in Norwegian) with texts by Petter Dotterud Anthun, Arne Backer Grønningsæter, Hans Erik Heier, HIV Norway, Per Miljeteig, Ketil Slagstad and Carla Tsampiras, and a comprehensive exhibition catalogue in English edited by Ana Maria Bresciani, Karen Monica Reini and Tommaso Speretta to be published in May 2022.

Support has also been provided for the adaptation of works, including Paul Maheke and the new work Aids is Good, Business for Some by the artists Elmgreen & Dragset, which will be presented on 736 of Clear Channel’s digital platforms throughout Norway in February.

Every Moment Counts shows the importance of art as a medium for free expression. The struggle to discuss HIV, AIDS and stigma was given a strong voice through art. The exhibition highlights the art activism of the 90s and illustrates the urgency of the issue in a contemporary perspective. The techniques used are striking, sensual, provocative and engaging,” says Tone Hansen, director of the Henie Onstad Art Centre.

Every Moment Counts – AIDS and its Feelings is being curated by Senior Curator Ana Maria Bresciani of the Henie Onstad Art Centre, and Tommaso Speretta, a researcher who has studied how HIV and AIDS have been portrayed through art. The physical exhibition will be on display at the Henie Onstad Art Centre from 18 February to 22 May 2022. Elmgreen & Dragseth’s digital works can be experienced on screens all over the country from 7 – 21 February 2022.

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Elmgreen & Dragseth, Side Effect, No. 2 (Truvada, Isentress), 2015. Elmgreen & Dragseth Studio/Photo: Alessandro Zambianchi