Through Positive Eyes

By David Gere and Gideon Mendel. Foreword by Richard Gere. Contributions by Mary Bowman.

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Through Positive Eyes is a collaborative photo-storytelling project by 130 people living with HIV and AIDS around the world. All have participated in workshops led by South African photographer Gideon Mendel, with photo educator Crispin Hughes, and David Gere, director of the Art & Global Health Center at the University of California—Los Angeles (UCLA). The project chronicles a very particular moment in the epidemic, when effective treatment is available to some, not all, and when the enduring stigma associated with HIV and AIDS has become entrenched, a major roadblock to both prevention and treatment. The participants in the project have volunteered to tell their stories, in words and in photographs, empowering themselves in order to banish stigma.

Format: Hardback
Number of pages: 196
Number of images: 272
Publication date: 2019-12-01
Measurements: 7.5 x 10.5 x 1 inches
ISBN: 9781597114769


“Over 10 years, more than 130 HIV-positive people across five continents have taken part [in the Through Positive Eyes project], many of whom picked up cameras for the first time in their lives.” —The Guardian

“Since 2007, the Through Positive Eyes workshops have put cameras in the hands of people living with HIV and taught them to express their lives and fight stigma through photography.” —Trenton Straube, POZ

By David Gere and Gideon Mendel. Foreword by Richard Gere. Contributions by Mary Bowman.

David Gere, Ph.D., serves as director of the Art & Global Health Center at the University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA), where he is professor of arts activism in the Department of World Arts and Cultures. An activist scholar, Gere is the author of How to Make Dances in an Epidemic: Tracking Choreography in the Age of AIDS (2004) as well as numerous journal articles on projects created under the MAKE ART/STOP AIDS banner. Over the past decade, he has cocurated a trilogy of AIDS-themed art exhibitions—MAKE ART/STOP AIDS, The A.R.T. Show, and Through Positive Eyes—seen in South Africa and the United States.
Gideon Mendel, born in Johannesburg in 1959, established his career with searing photographs of the final years of South Africa’s apartheid. In 1991 he moved to London and continued to respond to global issues, especially the HIV epidemic. Since 2007, using stills and video, Mendel has created Drowning World, an art and advocacy project about flooding that is his personal response to climate change. Mendel received the inaugural Jackson Pollock Prize for Creativity, the Greenpeace Photo Award, and was shortlisted for the Prix Pictet in 2015 and 2019. He has also received the W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography, the Amnesty International Media Award, and six World Press awards.
Richard Gere, the American actor, is a dedicated humanitarian who works on behalf of Tibetan causes, the homeless, and people living with HIV and AIDS. He is a cofounder of Tibet House and chair of the board of the International Campaign for Tibet, where he focuses on issues of human rights and cultural preservation. Since the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, he has played a leading role in fundraising for AIDS research and support organizations in the United States. Starting in 2004, he and Parmeshwar Godrej led India’s Heroes Project, a joint AIDS initiative with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Kaiser Family Fund, to address India’s AIDS epidemic.
Mary Bowman was a poet, singer, spoken word artist, and AIDS activist. She was born HIV-positive. “Dandelion,” her best-known poem, is dedicated to her biological mother, who died of AIDS-related causes. LOTUS, a collection of Bowman’s poetry, was honored as book of the year at the 2011 National Underground Spoken Word Poetry Awards. In 2012, she recited “And so they said,” a poem written in response to her experience participating in a Through Positive Eyes workshop, at the opening plenary session of the XIX International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C. Bowman died in 2019 at the age of thirty.