‘Image as virus’: World AIDS Day 2021 marked with powerful new public film

To mark World AIDS Day, (1 December 2021), and 40 years since the disease was first recorded, Circa will present VideoVirus, a compelling new film by AA Bronson and General Idea screened on public billboards in London, Seoul and Tokyo

Video Virus for World AIDS Day 2021
Rendering of VideoVirus by AA Bronson + General Idea at London’s Piccadilly Lights
(Image credit: © CIRCA)

Coinciding with World AIDS Day 2021, a new art film by AA Bronson and General Idea will be ‘virally transmitted’ on screens around the world. VideoVirus, a hypnotic, text-based video animation will poignantly mark 40 years since the HIV/AIDS disease was first recorded in 1981, and has been created in collaboration with UNAIDS and Terrence Higgins Trust. Presented by Circa on billboards in London, Seoul and Tokyo, the project comes as international health organisations continue to strive towards achieving zero new HIV transmissions by 2030.

The film will be presented daily from 1–30 December 2021 on London’s Piccadilly Lights (20:21 GMT), Seoul’s Coex K-Pop Square (20:21 KST), and Tokyo’s Yunika Vision (09:00 JST), as well as on the Circa website. 

General Idea, an art collaboration between AA Bronson, Felix Partz and Jorge Zontal, was first formed in Toronto in 1969. The group’s provocative, activist imagery confronted social power structures and experimented with traditional creative formats. 

World AIDS Day 2021

(Image credit: © CIRCA)

World AIDS Day 2021

Top and above: stills from VideoVirus by AA Bronson + General Idea

(Image credit: © CIRCA)

The installation reimagines their seminal work, Imagevirus, first initiated in 1987 for a global audience. The project was a powerful reworking of Robert Indiana’s iconic Love design of 1966. In sculptures, paintings, videos, posters and shows, General Idea famously substituted the word ‘LOVE’ for ‘AIDS’, rendering starkly visible a then largely ignored crisis. In 1994, both Partz and Zontal passed away from AIDS-related causes. 

‘General Idea first developed the concept of viral images in the early 1970s. In the mid-1980s that work became prophetically and tragically true, with the appearance of the HIV virus. In 1987 we exhibited our first AIDS painting and papered lower Manhattan with AIDS posters in the hope of making the image indeed viral,’ said AA Bronson, an artist, healer, curator and sole surviving member of the General Idea art group.

AA Bronson

Portrait of artist AA Bronson. 2020

(Image credit: © Mark Jan Krayenhoff van de Leur)

‘Thirty-five years later, and marking the 40th anniversary of AIDS first being recorded, I am honoured to join the Circa platform with this reimagined VideoVirus. General Idea's VideoVirus replicates the spread of HIV to the four corners of the world; it expands General Idea's signature theme of ‘image as virus’ for a global audience.’

Alongside the film, two new prints by AA Bronson + General Idea will be available to purchase via the Circa website. Sales proceeds will be invested in the #Circaeconomy, a circular model that supports their free public art programme and creates life-changing opportunities for the art and culture community.

Harnessing art as a catalyst to reduce stigmas and minimise the risk of people contracting HIV, Circa will also seek to educate audiences online via a programme of talks and informative videos guest-curated by new LGBTQ+ charity and new London-based arts hub Queercircle. To honour the collaboration, a #Circaeconomy grant of £5,000 has been awarded to Queercircle who will deliver an artist-led participatory residency and exhibition with an HIV positive person during their Winter 2022 season.

World AIDS Day 2021

 Still from VideoVirus by AA Bronson + General Idea

(Image credit: © CIRCA)

COEX K-POP Square rendering of VideoVirus

Seoul, COEX K-POP Square rendering of VideoVirus, by AA Bronson + General Idea

(Image credit: © CIRCA)