Time Out Melbourne

This event has finished

BalletLab choreographer Phillip Adams teams up with artist Andrew Hazewinkel to interpret the place of HIV in the Australian psyche

"In your life, what object do you feel best represents your relationship with HIV?" asks Phillip Adams, choreographer and artistic director of trailblazing contemporary dance outfit BalletLab.

Together with visual artist Andrew Hazewinkel, Adams is launching an ambitious, large-scale multi-form performance project which explores the changing face of HIV in the Australian cultural imagination.
While the project combines choreography, spoken word, video and various installation pieces, at its heart are the personal stories of more than 50 volunteers – positive, negative, young, old, gay, straight, male, female – about their encounters with the virus.

"The more I engage with the participants, the less interested I am in spectacle," says Adams. It's a significant shift for a choreographer more often associated with pageantry and extravagance. "I feel like Andrew and I are ambassadorial. We are facilitators, assisting these people who would never otherwise have the chance to perform... and I'm not sure that's the word–"

"Enact," suggests Hazewinkel.

"Yes, enact a story that is important to them."

For Hazewinkel and Adams, the public performance is not the only – or even the most important – outcome of the project.

"For the participants," says Hazewinkel, "every step of the process is another opportunity. It's a little bit like a social sculpture: together we create a form, which is a way of telling stories, and then the broader community engages that form and the whole thing evolves."

This idea of a created form begins with something they call "the materiality of HIV". That is, how can we meaningfully embody the virus and its broader impact in a material object? To this end, each of the volunteers has contributed an object that represents their personal relationship with HIV, whether it's a notebook or soft toy, an ABBA CD or tea towels. According to Adams, these will then be distributed to audience members in the weeks leading up to the performance.

"Two weeks before the performance, I make a series of calls," he explains. "Hi, my name's Phillip, I'm the artistic director of the company. You'll be receiving a parcel in the mail tomorrow. In that will be an object and some instructions, and on the night of the performance, we'd like you to bring that object along to the show."

It's a daring approach to a subject which, at least in Australia, is seen by artists as something of a blind alley. But, as Adams says, "What's important is not what I want to say about HIV; it's what you want to say about it."

Sign up to our monthly Arts newsletter

By Andrew Fuhrmann   |  

Live with It: We All Have HIV details

5 Blackwood St, North Melbourne 2051

Telephone 03 9322 3713

Price $15.00 to $25.00

Date 17 Jul 2014-27 Jul 2014

Open Tue-Sat 8.30pm; Sun Jul 27 3pm

Arts House: Meat Market map

Report a problem with this page

Restaurants and bars nearby

Turf Club Hotel

228m - Bev and Mick’s Turf Club Hotel on Flemington Road hosts My Mate Monday’s...

Grigons and Orr

276m - Grigons and Orr (rhymes with corner store) is like the milk bars of...

More restaurants and bars nearby

Other venues nearby

The Spot Theatre

462m - The University of Melbourne's lecture theatre also plays host to plays and...

Heartland Records

473m - A word of warning: if loud riffs and detuned bass aren’t your thing,...

More venues nearby


Got an itch for short films? Flickerfest is here to scratch it

Oak and Vine

Oak and Vine

A restaurant that pays tribute to Victoria's produce growers and suppliers

Readers' comments, reviews, hints and pictures

Community guidelines

blog comments powered by Disqus

Get the Time Out weekend planner. Straight to your inbox, every Thursday.
Read more