Deliberate masquerades: socialised stigma, HIV/AIDS and altered gay male body image
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Three themes are developed in this exegesis. Firstly, it discusses the conceptual base that informs the creative outcomes of this research. This centres on homo-sexuality, disease, illness and the deliberate masquerades that are often under-taken by HIV-positive Australian homosexual males as a response to socialised stigma. Through these masquerades, they enhance the physicality of their bodies so as to conform to Western cultural perceptions of masculine and healthy body ideals and thus avoid stigma that would otherwise be placed on them. This exploration draws upon theories from sociology to discuss these physical enhancements with an emphasis on the period since the onset of HIV/AIDS in the early 1980s. Secondly, it explores the works of visual artists that comment on the HIV/AIDS pandemic prior to the mid 1990s when no effective long-term treatments were available. Thirdly, it investigates HIV/AIDS-based art produced since the mid 1990s, after long-term treatments became available, and discusses how this work contrasts with the earlier works. Also discussed are the parallels and differences between the body of work that is supported by this exegesis and these other contemporary artworks that address HIV/AIDS issues.
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