Roy Lichtenstein, Photolithograph (1965)
Art is a morbid overgrowth of functions which lie deep in nature”
Ted Kerr and Chris Jones
This poster was inspired by the work and lived experience of Chaplain Jones, a black HIV-positive Baptist minister and activist, who is passionate about raising awareness around the lived experience of black and brown men who have sex with others men and their disproportionate rate of HIV infection in the West, which rivals infection rates in third world countries.
The burning condom, (and litany text), are shared by Jones, and collaborator Ted Kerr, with the intention of igniting public discourse around the condom. Since the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (Play Fair, 1982) and Richard Berkowitz and Michael Callen (How to Have Sex in an Epidemic, 1983) first popularized the use of condoms as an AIDS prevention strategy there has been little public discourse around the holistic impact of condoms on the lives the latex barrier is said to be saving. In an age where condoms are—for some—a loaded symbol of “AIDS Inc” and the systemic discrimination leveled against profiled and monitored bodies, and at a time pharmaceutical interventions such as PEP and PrEP are seemingly reducing the need for condoms, what is one to make of the rubber?
Key to this conversation are the various understandings and attachments people have to condoms, often related to age, life chances, race, orientation, faith, gender and class.
The burning condom is the fire around which we can gather, listen and discuss.
Litany for Burning Condoms
Chaplin Christopher Jones and Ted Kerr
It’s hard to stay silent when faced with burning condoms.
We burn condoms to say we are whole.
We burn condoms to say we matter.
We burn condoms to remember.
We burn condoms to say that public health does not have all the answers.
We burn condoms to exercise our voice and power of choice.
We burn condoms to merge the secular with the spiritual.
We burn condoms to influence thought and change.
We burn condoms because they are not enough.
We burn condoms because they are too much.
We burn condoms because the kids want more.
We burn condoms because sex is not just penetrative.
We burn condoms because they do not protect against stigma.
We burn condoms because they add to stigma.
We burn condoms because they are not they only answer.
We burn condoms because they are distributed in our name.
We burn condoms because we believe in harm reduction.
We burn condoms because we know it is complex.
We burn condoms because it’s a primordial act.
We burn condoms because we know they save lives but they also erase them.
We burn condoms because if you are going to give me something free make it health care education or a place to live.
We burn condoms because by 2015 approximately 27 billion condoms will be distributed across the globe bringing 6 billion dollars to the condoms industry.
We burn condoms because if you are going to pass me something pass mean end to racism sexism gender roles homo and heteronomativity transphobia profiling and policing.
We burn condoms for those unheard & populations underserved.
We burn condoms for the good & the bad and the light & the shade & the dark.
We burn condoms in the age of the Global AIDS Industrial Complex.
We burn condoms in our friend ’s backyard.
We burn condoms as two men living together on the HIV spectrum.
We burn condoms as a ritual which can be activism.
We burn condoms like a draft card for a war we didn‘t sign up for.
It’s hard to burn condoms. It takes time, partnership, and patience.
It’s dangerous, stinky, challenging, beautiful and shocking.
It’s life giving.
What ‘s your response when faced with burning condoms?
The Thought-Brain is the milieu of this becoming that the subject produces when the brain becomes subject”
— Eric Alliez
Discover behind the noise of actions those internal creative sensations or those silent contemplations that beat witness to a brain.
-Félix Guattari and Gilles Deleuze. “What is philosophy”
Richard Feynman’s famous monologue on why science adds to rather than subtracting from the beauty of nature, adapted in a comic by Zen Pencils, who have previously given us similar adaptations of Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot, Bill Watterson on creative integrity, Alan Watts on money and purpose, Neil deGrasse Tyson on the whimsy of the universe, and Roger Ebert on kindness.
The politics of the membrane: there are pathways from the outside to the inside, and back again. The delirious spaces between atoms. Unmentionable: the ephemerality of noses, gills, belly-buttons, and the blue-green vagina of the sperm whale. Cellular migration. The shifting meniscus of all touch. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS SKIN.”
— Bhanu Kapil, The Vertical Interrogation of Strangers
40. What is the shape of your body? (via lovevoltaireusapart)
Jerry Garcia by Annie Leibovitz
Like every ‘intellectual’, a philosophy teacher is a petty bourgeois. When he opens his mouth, it is petty-bourgeois ideology that speaks: its resources and ruses are infinite. You know what Lenin says about ‘intellectuals’. Individually certain of them may (politically) be declared revolutionaries, and courageous ones. But as a mass, they remain ‘incorrigibly’ petty-bourgeois in ideology. Gorky himself was, for Lenin, who admired his talents, a petty-bourgeois revolutionary. To become ‘ideologists of the working class’ (Lenin), ‘organic intellectuals’ of the proletariat (Gramsci), intellectuals have to carry out a radical revolution in their ideas: a long, painful and difficult re-education. An endless external and internal struggle.”
— Louis Althusser, Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays (1971; p. 12)
How else can one write but of those things which one doesn’t know, or knows badly? It is precisely there that we imagine having something to say. We write only at the frontiers of our knowledge, at the border which separates our knowledge from our ignorance and transforms the one into the other.”
— Gilles Deleuze, Difference and Repetition (via poststructur-al)
if stars are lit
it means – there is someone who needs it.
It means – someone wants them to be,
that someone deems those specks of spit
in the swirls of afternoon dust,
he bursts in on God,
afraid he might be already late.
Overcome with emotions. 08
Side Wall of the St. Louis LGBT Center (2013).