Boy With Arms Akimbo/Girl With Arms Akimbo

SAFE | UNSAFE

Works in Exhibition:

"Safe/Unsafe" Street Poster Series, 1990
(reproductions from original paste-up art in the archives of the GLBT Historical Society)
Title: SAFE
Dimensions: 24 x 36”
Medium: Blackline print

Title: SAFE
Dimensions: 24 x 36”
Medium: Blackline print

Title: UNSAFE (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger)
Dimensions: 36 x 24”
Medium: Blackline print

Title: UNSAFE (Senator Jesse Helms)
Dimensions: 36 x 24”
Medium: Blackline print

Curator’s Description:

Boy With Arms Akimbo/Girl With Arms Akimbo was an anonymous cultural activist collective based in San Francisco. Active from 1989 to 1992, the group carried out street postering campaigns, media appropriation initiatives and other forms of visual intervention to promote queer pro-sex messages in response to AIDS and to attacks by anti-sex reactionaries. Akimbo consistently promoted do-it-yourself approaches, encouraging individuals and groups in the Bay Area, nationally and internationally to borrow, reproduce and adapt its projects. The group also welcomed and documented the informal contributions of passersby who improved, defaced and otherwise modified its street graphics.

Akimbo's "Safe/Unsafe" project debuted in conjunction with the VI International Conference on AIDS, which took place in San Francisco during the last week of June 1990. Drawing on the model of then-ubiquitous safer-sex materials listing sexual acts that were safe (no risk of HIV transmission) or unsafe (high risk of HIV transmission), the group created posters, stickers and protest signs that gave the concept a broader meaning. Akimbo transformed the conventionalized discourse of safer sex by publicly juxtaposing images of safe sexual acts with represenations of political, religious and social leaders whose homophobia and AIDS-phobia posed a threat to the safety of LGBT people and people with HIV/AIDS.

Return to Artists