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Wallpaper - AIDS wallpaper

AIDS wallpaper

  • Object:

    Wallpaper

  • Place of origin:

    Canada (designed)
    New York (printed)

  • Date:

    1989 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    General Idea (artists)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Screen print on paper

  • Credit Line:

    Given by General Idea

  • Museum number:

    E.388-1994

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, room 514a, case SH41

In recent years artists have adopted wallpaper for installations, public art projects, and sometimes also to carry political messages. The Canadian artists' collective General Idea designed a wallpaper based on Robert Indiana's famous 'Love' screenprint from 1967, but replaced the letters L.O.V.E. with A.I.D.S. They used this logo to promote Aids awareness in public places and they printed it on carrier bags and posters as well as wallpaper. It has been exhibited in many museums and galleries - including the V&A exhibition 'Graphic Responses to Aids' in 1996. The image gives us an apt metaphor for the action of the HIV virus itself - it is as if the Love motif has been 'infected' and has mutated from something benign to something dangerous; like the cells invaded by HIV it has kept its form but changed its nature. And by repeating the motif in a repeating wallpaper pattern we might see it as imitating the replication of the HIV virus in the host cells. But General Idea also intended something more positive when they reproduced this stark acronym as a wallpaper pattern. Their avowed intention was simply to normalise Aids and to remind us that many people live with Aids, continuing with ordinary routines and domestic lives.

Physical description

Length of wallpaper printed with the letters A I D S repeated in a square grid.

Place of Origin

Canada (designed)
New York (printed)

Date

1989 (made)

Artist/maker

General Idea (artists)

Materials and Techniques

Screen print on paper

Dimensions

Height: 216 cm full length, Width: 68.5 cm, Height: 930 mm one drop of the design, Diameter: 80 mm roll

Descriptive line

Wallpaper by General Idea (Canadian artists' collective: Jorg Zontal, Felix Partz, A.A.Bronson), 'AIDS Wallpaper', colour screenprint, Canada, 1989

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Victoria and Albert Museum Department of Prints, Drawings and Paintings Accession Register for 1994
Stephen Coppel, Catherine Daunt, Susan Tallman ; with contributions from Isabel Seligman and Jennifer Ramkalawon The America Dream: pop to the present London : Thames & Hudson, in collaboration with the British Museum, 2017.

Materials

Paper

Techniques

Screenprint

Subjects depicted

AIDS

Categories

Installation art; Wall coverings; Prints; Health

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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