PULSE: artists in social projects

September 2003 -

The South African collective Pulse has invited eight artists to participate in Hiv(e), a project for aids victims. In doing this, Pulse wants to investigate how artists can contribute to social projects without making concessions to artistic quality. Hiv(e) stands for ‘HIV’, but also for ‘hive’: ‘removing yourself from a larger group’.


Gozololo, centre for aids orphans and children who have lost their parents through violence

The person behind the initiative, Greg Streak of Pulse, was impressed by the work done at Gozololo, centre for aids orphans and children who have lost their parents through violence. Gozololo is located in a black township just outside Durban. Gozololo is run by volunteers and operates entirely on donations.

After conversations with the children, the employees and visitors, Streak and the other artists will create objects or give expression to ideas and desires of the people at Gozolo. These must be good, beautifully designed, useful facilities, for example a rain water installation. The results will be displayed in Durban.

Hiv(e) is co-financed by the Dutch embassy in South Africa. Margreet Leemhuis of the embassy says: ‘There are plenty of reasons to support the project. Many artists in South Africa wrestle with social problems. First there was apartheid. Now the problem is frequently aids or violence, such as the first Pulse project, which we also supported. With Hiv(e) Streak will go further than most artists go who “do something” for aids victims. For example, people who paint a mural. Streak wants the people to actually be able to use the art objects.’

‘In addition’, says Leemhuis, ‘it is good that there will be an exhibition and a discussion meeting. Our Development Collaboration department also works on new collaboration programs for HIV/aids. This is a great pilot project.’

Another Hiv(e) financier is RAIN, the network of artist’s initiatives in Africa, Asia and Latin America. It was founded by former participants of the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten (Academy of Visual Arts) in Amsterdam. Greg Streak, himself a former student of this Academy, set up a local network of former Academy students after returning to Durban: Pulse.