'Superhero' Condoman arrives in Leicester!

Posted by pt91 at Jul 05, 2011 11:36 AM |
AIDS Posters from Around the World to be Exhibited in City
'Superhero' Condoman arrives in Leicester!

“I have AIDS. Please hug me” Jack Keeler (1987) for the Centre for Attitudinal Healing, California, USA

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 5 July 2011

PHOTO OPPORTUNITY: 6.00pm on Thursday 14th July 2011 Formal opening of exhibition at New Walk Museum, Leicester

Images of posters available from University of Leicester Press Office: pressoffice@le.ac.uk

A University of Leicester academic is curating an exhibition of AIDS posters from around the world providing a graphic narrative of the most serious epidemic in the world’s history.

A total of 24 posters from 5 continents will go on display at the New Walk Museum, Leicester, from 15 July-28 August.

Among the posters is one from Australia – Condoman - a ‘superhero’ who appeared in 1987 to protect the public by promoting condom use with the slogan “Don’t Be Shame – Be Game!”

Dr Sarah Graham from the University of Leicester School of English, who is spearheading the exhibition in collaboration with the Wellcome Library, said: “Originally aimed at indigenous communities, “Condoman” became widely popular in Australia. He was revived in 2009, with even more muscles, in a new poster and comic book.

“The images at the exhibition from around the world are  imaginative, interesting and sometimes humorous. I would also like everyone to be reminded that HIV and AIDS are still important topics, even though they might not be discussed as much in this country as they used to be. I hope that the range of images shows that AIDS is a global issue that affects women and men of all races, ethnicities, religions and sexual orientations. It is vital that we see ourselves as part of the fight against the illness, not only in how we protect ourselves and care for others, but also in how we learn to support rather than judge those who suffer from the disease, just as we would in relation to any other health issue.”

The exhibition will be opened by Lord Smith of Finsbury, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1997-2001), currently Chairman of the Environment Agency and Patron of HIV/AIDS charity the Food Chain.

Dr Graham said the exhibition is the first part of an on-going project on how HIV and AIDS have been represented in all kinds of media: “ I plan to continue my collaboration with the Wellcome Trust, as this exhibition represents just a tiny part of the library’s holdings in this area. I also plan to develop collaboration with key HIV/AIDS charities, such as the Terrence Higgins Trust, to pursue further research on changes in the ways in which campaigns related to HIV/AIDS have been managed in the thirty years since the disease was first identified. I would like this to result in a PhD studentship and a monograph of my own on representations of HIV/AIDS.”

Dr Graham added that the exhibition and related research helped to inform research and teaching at the University: “My main research interests are in gender and sexuality in 20th century/contemporary texts and popular culture. From this base I developed a module for the MA in Modern Literature in the School of  English on “AIDS Narratives”, which involves the study of fiction, poetry, drama and film about AIDS. Initially, my research on the subject was principally aimed at supporting my teaching, but this is now developing in terms of plans for publications.”

July 2011 marks 30 years since the identification of a disease that has gone on to become the most serious epidemic in history. It is also 20 years since the introduction of the red ribbon as a symbol of AIDS awareness. This exhibition has been organised in recognition of these anniversaries.

·         “Spreading the Word: AIDS Posters from Around the World”

·         New Walk Museum 53 New Walk, Leicester LE1 7EA

·         Dates of exhibition: Friday 15 July 2011 - Sunday 28 August 2011.

(Monday - Saturday: 10.00am - 5.00pm; Sunday: 11.00am - 5.00pm.)



1.    “I have AIDS. Please hug me”. (pictured above)

Jack Keeler (1987) for the Centre for Attitudinal Healing, California, USA

The focus on a child encourages compassion by suggesting that people with AIDS – not only children with the disease – are innocent. It also aims to dispel fear by underlining that the virus cannot be transmitted through touch; a great deal of uncertainty about how HIV can be passed between people caused over-reactions to the presence of HIV+ positive people and expressions of prejudice. The image is very well-known as it has been issued globally; another version features a black child.

2.    “La Vie Sociale Ne Comporte Aucun Risque de SIDA”

Vie Sociale_Togo 200

Artist unknown (circa 1996) for Programme de Lutte Contre le SIDA [Fight Against AIDS], Togo, West Africa

This poster, which assures us that ‘Social Life Doesn’t Carry Any Risk of AIDS’, seeks to allay anxieties about how HIV is transmitted. As well as depicting day-to-day activities, like embracing friends and partners, family meals and washing together, it also reassures viewers that attending a funeral is safe, and that HIV cannot be transmitted via biting insects. This is an interesting example of how information needs to be conveyed clearly and be attuned to the specific culture it addresses. In another culture, for example, intimate, non-sexual contact between men may be unusual and not a priority for a healthcare campaign; similarly, the prevalence of mosquitoes and the recognised dangers of malaria could inform expectations about HIV, so this poster tackles that concern in particular.

3.    “All You Need Is Love (And A Little Bit of Rubber)”

all you need is love and a little bit of rubber 200

Artist unknown (1993) for the Terrence Higgins Trust, London

This poster was produced to mark the 10th anniversary of the Terrence Higgins Trust, an AIDS charity named after one of the first people to die of the disease in the UK. The slogan and lettering evoke the 1967 song by The Beatles, which promotes compassion and connection, while the comment inside the condom playfully alludes to safe sex. The memorable slogan also encourages viewers to feel comfortable with condom use: it is, after all, just a “little bit of rubber”.


For more information, please contact

Dr Sarah Graham, School of English, University of Leicester

Email: shsg1@le.ac.uk. Telephone: 0116 252 2625.

Wellcome Library is one of the world's major resources for the study of medical history, and provides access to a growing collection of contemporary biomedical information resources relating to consumer health, popular science, biomedical ethics and the public understanding of science. Wellcome Library is part of the Wellcome Trust, a global charity dedicated to achieving extraordinary improvements in human and animal health. The Trust is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. www.wellcome.ac.uk/library

About New Walk Museum and Art Gallery


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