With the HIV work, what drives me is that during the early 80s a lot of my friends were diagnosed with AIDS (there was no differentiation then). And I did actually lose a whole circle of friends. At the time I was working at the school of fine arts and I remember one day catching the train back from work with a colleague and I mentioned that I had a lot of friends that had been diagnosed, that I was their emotional support. He looked and me and said, What else do you think you could be doing?
And I thought, well, okay, I can use my skills in photography. I decided to hand the camera over to people that wanted to become involved and with a tape recorder, so they were defining their own stories, writing their own stories rather than being written about or spoken about by sociologists, or medical practitioners. That’s how I started the Self-Imaging Project [Self Documentation, Self Imaging: People Living With HIV/AIDS 1988].
Also, this might sound a little bit corny, [but] issues of discrimination and stigma -“ I find them stressful. They piss me off. I suppose on a personal level I’ve experienced discrimination myself as well but in AIDS Inc it’s reverse discrimination, and it’s because I’m not HIV-positive. I’ve experienced that quite intensely.
I suppose there’s always been that passion from an early age. I remember at the age of nine I gave a 10-minute talk on discrimination -“ I had this kind of heavy book on indigenous culture and discrimination. I was very quiet and reserved, then one day I gave this talk and was very passionate and full-on, then I went back to my mousy self. I stopped taking photographs in the late 80s. I don’t really pick up a camera. I have a huge distrust of photographs. I drive the people in the office crazy -“ I have issues about representation.