HIV Lifecycle

Walter, John
John Walter’s work encompasses a diverse range of media, including painting, drawing, artist’s books, sculpture, costume, performance, video, sound, installation and spatial design. His oeuvre is characterised by an exuberant use of colour and pattern as well as an absurdist and tragicomic use of humour. He works serially, producing iterative bodies of work that accumulate to form large and distinct projects, and often collaborates with individuals and institutions such as other artists, scientists and museums in order to exchange images, ideas and narratives. CAPSID (2018–19) incorporated 250 artworks, and was the result of a collaboration between the artist and molecular virologist Professor Greg Towers of University College London. The exhibition addressed a crisis of representation surrounding viruses such as HIV, by bringing new scientific knowledge about viral capsids to the attention of the wider public. Capsids are protein shells contained within viruses that help protect and deliver viruses to host cells during infection. The project used the imagery and narratives associated with research around capsids to create an immersive installation featuring drawings, paintings, prints, sculptures, costumes, videos, film and sound, with an emphasis on privileging the handmade, the awkward and the asymmetrical, an aesthetic the artist describes as ‘shonky’. The title of A Virus Walks Into A Bar, 2018 came about after Walter began working on the CAPSID project; asked what it was about, he found himself replying, ‘Imagine a virus walks into a bar…’ This storytelling convention struck Walter as a pertinent way to narrate the life cycle of the virus in a clear, accessible way that anyone could understand – scientist, artist or other.
  • Artwork Details: running time: 2 minutes 16seconds
  • Edition: 1 of 3 + 2 AP
  • Material description: Digital animation
  • Credit line: © the artist. Gift of the artist, 2018
  • Theme:
  • Medium: Film and Audio Visual
  • Accession number: ACC26/2018



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