Artist’s Safer Sex Messages with Fine Art

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), an AIDS organization in the United States, uses educational advertising to reach a wide variety of demographics with messaging about reducing the spread of HIV and STDs through condom use, regular testing, and open sexual dialogue between partners.

The global organization is taking its promotions in a new direction with its latest billboard campaign in Los Angeles, which pairs engaging messaging with artwork by some of today’s most popular and influential visual media artists.

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The premiere billboard, posted at the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Highland Avenue in Hollywood, features work by renowned multimedia artist Bill Barminski.

The custom billboard utilizes classic Barminski elements – dramatic colors, a textured look, and imagery evocative of 1950s advertisements embellished with the artist’s unique use of double mouths – and the simple inquiry, “Friends With Benefits?” with the address for, the Foundation’s resource for people seeking free screenings for HIV, Chlamydia, syphilis, and gonorrhea.

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Barminski’s ironic take on consumerism in America has crossed the visual media spectrum, from paintings similar to the current AHF billboard to surrealistic sculptures made of cardboard to music videos and video sequences for the 2001 feature film Antitrust, as well as the animated short The Adventures of Joel Stein, which was included in the 2009 Sundance Film Festival.

“Since the days of Keith Haring’s iconic paintings in the 1980s, art has been an important part of raising awareness of HIV and AIDS,” said Jason Farmer, creative director for AHF.

The Barminski billboard is the first in a series of AHF Artist Gallery advertisements that will feature a new artist every two months.

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Rakesh Raman