Mission Statement/Core Messages

The AFEW Culture Initiative was established in 2017 by AFEW International. We are a platform connecting public, sexual and reproductive health issues to the spheres of culture, visual and fine arts via a publicly accessible artist-in-residence (AIR) and cultural events programme. Our project is envisaged as an alternative means to complement AFEW International’s already consolidated track record in advocacy, education and outreach campaigns on matters of public health in the Eastern Europe and Central Asian (EECA) region.

AFEW International deals specifically with societal concerns relating to HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB) and viral hepatitis (HCV), working directly alongside communities affected by the social stigma and structural burdens surrounding such matters, such as sex workers, substance users, imprisoned personsqueer communities and other invisibilised populations. We actively cooperate with partner institutions, grassroots social movements and collectives in Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, and support like-minded initiatives in Belarus, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

The artistic work put forward by our six artists-in-residence will be showcased at a variety of cultural institutions of the city of Amsterdam between May and July 2018, culminating with an extensive final exhibition taking place during the 22nd International AIDS 2018 Amsterdam Conference, scheduled between 23-27 July 2018. The exhibition, set up at the Conference's Global Village, will be accessible to the general public.

Ilya Fedotov-Fedorov, Portrait © Juan Aguirre Fernández-Bravo

Ilya Fedotov-Fedorov, Portrait © Juan Aguirre Fernández-Bravo

Curatorial Overview and Objectives

We believe in arts and culture as an essential outlet to step outside the traditional public health organisation paradigm, while rendering access to information channels and different outlooks more accessible to the general public.

The AFEW Culture Initiative presents an innovative array of opportunities to spark fruitful, critical conversations and initiate cross-cultural dialogues between previously unconnected spheres. These include academia and eduction, medical research, fine and visual arts, cultural institutions, grassroots and community-based activism and support collectives, among others.

Delivering representative, critical insight into the matters we dissect becomes all the more crucial in the current sociopolitical circumstances, where one-dimensional and dualistic portrayals of "East" vs "West" reign in all forms of public media. Both in the Netherlands and in the region coined 'Eastern Europe and Central Asia' (EECA), as well as in a generally globalising context, pressing issues around HIV/AIDS and public health are weaponised as propaganda tools for reasons of political convenience.

Against the backdrop of ideological polarisation, together with the current epidemiological crisis affecting the EECA region disproportionately in terms of newly diagnosed HIV/STI infections, we are in dire need of brokering a new approach towards more effective collaboration between regions and communities.

Lado Darakhvelidze's History Blackboards © Juan Aguirre Fernández-Bravo

Lado Darakhvelidze's History Blackboards © Juan Aguirre Fernández-Bravo

We invite you to navigate our website as an archival platform, through which you can delve deeper into the interests, motivations and stories behind the work of our artists and our collaborating institutions.

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Our initiative is supported by the Netherlands' Ministry of Foreign Affairs.