As part of Square Peg, British artist John Walter transforms the gallery space into an immersive multi-media, multi-sensory show exploring the relationship between visual culture and HIV today. The project, Alien Sex Capsule, is a condensed version of Walter’s 2015 exhibition, Alien Sex Club, which was exhibited at Ambika P3 in London and Homotopia Festival in Liverpool. It invokes the idea of the cruise maze—a structure commonly found in sex clubs and gay saunas that may encourage sexual risk – a leitmotif for organising a range of artworks that update the representation of HIV in our current era of PrEP. Using the made as a directive mechanism, Walter guides the viewer through a carnival-like space filled with paintings, sculpture, and video pieces converging conversation and research on the complex subject of contemporary sexual health today. Walter engages audiences in sensitive issues using tragicomic humour and visual excess.
In addition to Alien Sex Capsule, Walter presents an Artist’s Talk where he will discuss the relationship between visual culture and HIV today. The talk, framed around the exhibition, will address Walter’s body of work as a whole—the history of HIV as a subject for art, zaniness as a critical tool for art, “shonkiness”, the role of the jester within his hospitality works, and his upcoming curatorial project for Hayward Touring.