The exhibition of 60 photographs, for which 50 men volunteered to take their clothes off and pose with props, their lovers or simply in their own, often tattooed, skin, contains the sort of full frontal nudity reminiscent of some of renowned photographer Robert Maplethorpe’s work.
Displayed this week in the Adam&Eve Lounge in De Waterkant, the exhibition, titled Taking a Risk for Safer Sex, was organised by the Health4Men, a non-profit organisation that provides free healthcare to men, including access to ARV treatment at the Ivan Toms Centre for Men’s Health in Woodstock.
Health4Men project co-leader and psycho-social manager Glenn de Swardt said the exhibition was planned as an extension of the 5th International Aids Society Conference taking place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre this week, in order to promote HIV awareness among the “people of Cape Town”.
De Swardt said the idea came from the fact that people took sexual risks on an ongoing basis which could be life threatening, but were scared of being naked in public which, by comparison, was harmless.
And the photographic display, which has been touted as the first of its kind in South Africa, has been “a huge success” so far.
De Swardt said Monday night’s opening and auction was “fantastic” and “very well attended” by delegates from the IAS as well as Capetonians.
He said the rest of the framed and limited prints were on silent auction this week, and although he did not know the details of the bids at this stage, the interest was “phenomenal”.
The photographer, Danie Janse van Vuuren, who was assisted by Alexia Beckerling, said there was “a lot of talk, a lot of buzz” around the exhibition.
Janse van Vuuren said the entire exhibition was shot in two weeks, with each model spending half an hour in front of the lens.
“It’s a groundbreaking way of getting men to talk about sex in a responsible way, to get participation (from the male, predominantly gay) community, to get discussion around the issue (of HIV).”
The exhibition is on show at the Adam&Eve lounge in Napier Street, De Waterkant, until July 25. – West Cape News