Wear Against AIDS – Condom Couture

In a classic case of size not mattering, a small ring of latex that fits easily into a wallet or back pocket has been heralded as the world’s most powerful defense against the spread of AIDS. Brazilian artist Adriana Bertini has appropriated this object of protection to create exotic female fashions, represented in Dress Up Against AIDS: Condom Couture, currently on display in Los Angeles at UCLA’s Fowler Museum.

Vibrant and colorful as Bertini’s dresses are, they are intended not as commercial fashion, but as a conceptual statement to raise awareness of the importance of condoms in preventing HIV/AIDS transmission. Bertini hopes to demystify and destigmatize condoms by refashioning them as objects associated with pleasure.

“As an artist I think about art aesthetics, and also that I don’t want to see people dying of AIDS. It’s so sad to lose someone we love, victims of discrimination and prejudice, and I think my work can help [invigorate] this discussion,” Bertini said. “Condoms must be basic like a pair of jeans, and so necessary, like a great love.”

The condoms the artist uses — from 1,000 to 80,000 for a single dress — have failed to pass quality control tests and would otherwise be destined for sulfur-producing incineration or landfill. Additional condom creations include pictures, sculptures and even furniture. “I want my art to be everywhere,” the artist said, “reminding people of the necessity of prevention when you have sex.”

In 2004, Pres. Bush’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention disqualified from receiving federal funds any organization that recommends condoms, rather than abstinence, for HIV-prevention.
—Abigail Lewis

Through 3/11, Fowler Museum, fowler.ucla.edu, 310.825.4361

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