Luv ‘til it Hurts is an artist-led project on HIV & stigma. Its outputs are collectively authored.
Luv ‘til it Hurts is action research, insomuch as a methodological discussion transpires amongst artists pertaining to curating, institutional critique, cooperation, mutual aid and general peer-ship.
Luv ‘til it Hurts convened as a constituency inviting others working on HIV and health to join their issues in a new configuration. We use this mothership as omnibus for visiting other hurts and stigmas such as those newly afoot with COVID-19. Our origin story notwithstanding ‘pandemics’ by no means delimits the themes we expect to tackle in the future.
Luv ‘til it Hurts began as a two-year, uncharted project about HIV and Stigma. An odyssey, of sorts. A limited set of questions. A discussion that grew into a team. Its next-life is aligned with our urgency to keep talking…talking in different directions and including others. Luv ‘til it Hurts is a platform for real bodies to come onboard and co-pilot its playful unfolding, one set of interactions generating the next.
The project’s original site (LUVHURTS.CO ) was used to collect data (poems, interviews, field notes, images, etc), and in some cases serves as the only online representation of the works and practices encountered. Scrapbook-cum-archive, the ‘red site’ was built over two years (July 2018-June 2020), the same period in which Brad Walrond, Paula Nishijima and Todd Lanier Lester formed a working bond. Paula Nishijima designed and curated the next version of our website to reflect the present state of our process and artist interactions.
One such collectively-authored output is EXQUISITE CORPSE, a traveling group show (and soapbox) on HIV and stigma. Jakub Szczęsny joined the working group to help produce this exhibit.
Brad Walrond (NYC)
Brad Walrond’s debut collection Every Where Alien is published by Moore Black Press. The themes here explores the author’s own black queer exploration of the world, domestic and abroad and how these experiences map onto the discovery of co-occurring and overlapping art and resistance movements among New York City’s underground communities. Communities like the New Black Arts Movement, the New York Ballroom Scene, Black Rock Coalition, Underground house dance and music community, and the black queer political arts and activist movements that arose in response to racism, homophobia, transphobia, and the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Brad was born in Brooklyn, New York to first generation parents from Barbados. Brad began writing and performing at the age of 24 when commissioned to participate in a theatre production curated by Harry Belafonte. Brad soon became one of the foremost writers and performers of the 1990s Black Arts Movement centered in New York City. Brad aims with his work to provoke explorations of how we experience and are impacted by historical remembered and imagined time to encourage us to identify and piece together the common and conflicting threads of our human inheritance by amplifying and interrogating the great power and contradictions inherent to identity. Brad has collaborated with artists like Erykah Badu and Camille Brown & Dancers. Brad’s first recording is a single Underneath the Metal on the breakout spoken word compilation album Eargasms: Crucial Poetics Vol. 1 featuring, among others, Abiodun Oyewole of the Last Poets, jessica Care moore, Mos Def aka Yasin Bey, and Saul Williams. His most recent track “fallopia” on Shelley Nicole’s blakbüshe soon to be released I Am American album is produced by Vernon Reid. Brad’s poetics and praxis has taken him across the country and as far as São Paulo, Brazil and Taipei, Taiwan.
Paula Nishijima (Amsterdam)
Paula Nishijima is a visual artist whose research-based practice includes intersections with life science, technology and participatory social practice. Exploring individual and collective motivations, either through happenings or longer processes of interaction, her production materialises into different digital media, such as video, web applications and photography. Paula received an MA in Arts and Culture from Leiden University (NL) and holds a BA in Visual Arts from the Universidade Estadual Paulista Júlio de Mesquita Filho (BR). Recent exhibitions include ‘Teachable Moment’, Stove Works, Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA (2020); ‘Here and Now’, Media Art Festival Friesland, Leeuwarden, Netherlands (2021) and Mutant Institute of Environmental Narratives, Matadero Madrid, Spain (2019). She is part of Translocalia (www.translocalia.com), a network of artists, curators, designers, and professionals from different domains that plan for the future through art.
Todd Lanier Lester (São Paulo)
Todd Lanier Lester is an artist, producer and critic. He lives in São Paulo, where he inherited a bar, makes things and writes about city life. Todd coordinates ArtistSafety.net, a hybrid consultancy and volunteer network that provides case management for artists, journalists and culture workers in danger. He founded its predecessor, freeDimensional, a network that organizes safe haven in participating artist residencies around the world. He developed a large artist safety residency prototype at NYC’s historic Westbeth Artists Housing at the end of this decade-long process. Todd co-designed the ArtsRightsJustice Academy at the University of Hildesheim through its UNESCO Chair in Cultural Policy. He is a Research Associate with Laboratório para Outros Urbanismos at the University of São Paulo and Culturizing Sustainable Cities at the University of Coimbra; a Senior Fellow at the World Policy Institute; and serves as advisor/contributor to arts, rights and literary organizations in India, Mexico, Brazil, Germany and the US. freeDimensional (2003-12) and Lanchonete.org (2013-17) began a series of durational, rights-focused, multi-stakeholder art works for which Luv ’til it Hurts (2018-20), a project on HIV and related stigmas is the last.
Jakub Szczęsny (Warsaw)
Jakub Szczęsny works on the verge of architecture, design and art. Since 2013 he created a brand of prefabricated houses named Simple House (www.simplehouse.pl). In parallel he is collaborating in social projects and revitalization processes in Brazil (Occupation São João community projects and Polish Refuge at Casa do Povo), Poland (From The Backyard Festival), and Israel (Lieblinghaus roof conversion). His project Keret House, was included in MoMA NY collection and in the List of Iconic Houses.
The original Luv ’til it Hurts logo is by Adham Bakry as is the LUV Game, which introduced Exquisite Corpse–as technique, method and aesthetic–to the overall process. EXQUISITE CORPSE expography is by Jakub Szczęsny. Every Where Alien’s poetics + pandemics, sample biograms and a Logo Poem are by Brad Walrond. Game of Swarm logic and website design are by Paula Nishijima. The R&D phase was launched by Todd Lanier Lester who also designed the LUV Fund. And Sebastien Sanz de Santamaria helped launch the Luv ’til it Hurts project in 2018 and coded the new LUV site in 2020!