Here’s a little update about the current projects I’m working on. I’m currently staying in Antwerp to help organize and execute a city-wide arts festival called BHART#01. I’m working with Thomas and Christoph, the owners of Red Fish Factory (the headquarters of the festival), and the brains behind BHART#01. They asked me to come to Antwerp intern for them, to which I said a very excited yes! but I needed a place to live…
Luckily they were able to find me the most amazing of houses through Ninette Murk, who is the founder of the organization Designers Against AIDS. DAA’s mission is to provide ongoing information and teachings about AIDS, with a primary focus on prevention awareness geared toward young adults. In the words of DAA:
The main objective of Designers against AIDS is to raise awareness and to get the subject of HIV/AIDS back into the media all over the world, as lately it has become a forgotten disease, especially in the western world. Our messages are: ‘Prevention is the only cure for HIV/AIDS‘ (protect yourself and your partner) and ‘Know your status’ (get tested). Furthermore we fight for the acceptance of and equal rights for seropositive people.
Designers Against AIDS works “to raise AIDS awareness in the international media and towards the general public, more specifically towards young people in the industrialised countries using elements from pop culture (music, fashion, design, arts, sports, film, celebrities, etc).” One of the main ways that DAA addresses their target audience is through media outlets, with an emphasis on celebrities and musicians wearing DAA branded shirts and other gear. They have collaborated with H&M, as well as other prominent designers and artists, to create a line of DAA clothing to raise awareness.
When I was in Belgium in June I had the pleasure of listening to a talk that Ninette gave about the organization, its origins and its methods and goals. To be honest, I myself know very little about the AIDS virus, which speaks to their point that this is a disease that is largely forgotten within today’s young adult culture. It was a great lesson to hear her talk about everything that the organization does and stands for.
Thanks to this lecture, I was familiar with Ninette and the DAA when they offered me a place to stay for the duration of my time working with BHART#01. DAA is lucky to have two large houses to accomodate their interns and volunteers, as well as spaces in which to teach and educate groups of people. They happened to have room in their apartment in Merksem, and so last Friday I arrived to the beautiful and quirky DAA apartment.
The one mission that I was assigned in exchange for staying at the DAA apartment was to customize a DAA shirt for an upcoming exhibition that they are producing. Of course my mind immediately set to work, as customizing and redesigning existing clothing is one of my biggest passions. When I got to Antwerp I went to visit the DAA headquarters to meet with Ninette and to collect my shirts for altering.
If you’ve looked at any of my work, you have seen that armor has featured in my creations quite a lot recently, and going off of this idea of “protecting yourself” against AIDS, I am working on an armor-inspired t-shirt. I will say no more, but I will post pictures as my process unfolds. I’ll leave you with the coat of arms that I made earlier as a jumping off point for my creation… we’ll see where this all leads!
All I can say is, it’s great to be here in the DAA apartment!