Through Positive Eyes is an attempt to address key themes of the AIDS epidemic: widespread stigma, extreme social inequality, and limited access to lifesaving medication. The project is based on the belief that challenging stigma against people living with HIV/AIDS is the most effective method for combating the epidemic—and that art is a powerful way to do this. Over the next two years HIV-positive people in six countries and on five continents will take part in this unique initiative, creating powerful personal photo essays. From these images, we will create local and international advocacy materials including exhibitions, short films, a book, and this website.
Through Positive Eyes has been produced in Mexico City (August 2008), Rio de Janeiro (June 2009), and Johannesburg (March 2010). Next, the project will travel to Chennai, Kiev, and New York City.
The project is co-directed by London-based South African photographer and AIDS activist Gideon Mendel, who has been chronicling HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa since 1993. Since then his groundbreaking work on the issue has been widely recognized. Through magazine publications, multimedia web and video presentations, and his book, A Broken Landscape, Mendel has been commended for empowering his subjects rather than representing them as objects of pity.