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Reception for Safe Sex Bang: The Buzz Bense Collection of Safe Sex Posters

 Friday, November 8, 7-10 pm

Center for Sex and Culture, 1349 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA

The Center for Sex & Culture in San Francisco is thrilled to announce its exhibition SAFE SEX BANG: The Buzz Bense Collection of Safe Sex Posters, featuring a selection of nearly 100 posters donated to the Center for Sex & Culture (CSC) by graphic designer and safe sex activist Buzz Bense. Co-organized by CSC gallery curator Dorian Katz and New York-based writer and curator Alex Fialho, in close collaboration with Bense, the exhibition opens November 8, 2013 from 7-10 pm and runs through January 31, 2014.

These posters do more than chart the tragedy of an epidemic, of an outsider community reeling from grief, loss, and the decimation of a blooming culture of sexual liberation. The history of these posters is a story of a fight against stigma, hatred and ignorance; of a community stepping up to take care of its own; of finding a way to extinguish fear and build pride and self-esteem; and of devoted efforts of committed activists to communicate a path to health and survival.

~Buzz Bense, donor of CSC’s safe sex poster collection.


Buzz Bense has collected and produced safe sex posters aimed at members of the queer community since the mid-1980s. In March 2012, Bense donated his collection to CSC of over 150 unique posters, accumulated primarily during his time as a graphic designer with various safe sex advocacy groups and as founder of the San Francisco safe sex club EROS. Circulated at a moment when the queer community experienced the initial ravages brought on by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, these posters comprise a striking aesthetic collection of graphically innovative design that explicitly visualizes diverse LGBT communities and safe sex activism.

SAFE SEX BANG: The Buzz Bense Collection of Safe Sex Posters spans from 1982 into the 2000s, from San Francisco to New York City stateside and internationally to Australia, Germany, Denmark, and Canada. Highlights of the exhibition include the “Play Fair!” brochure produced by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence in 1982, considered “the first queer positive, safer-sex pamphlet” (on loan from the GLBT Historical Society in San Francisco); six bus shelter posters produced by the San Francisco AIDS Foundation –including an example of the well-known Bleachman campaign– and STOP AIDS Project that demand attention through their large-scale format; four powerful posters from the Brothers Network, a San Francisco based organization aimed at empowering and educating gay and transgender members of the African-American community; five seductively colorful posters designed by the Australian artist David McDiarmid, other examples of which are included in the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; and multiple posters and condom packaging designs produced by Bense himself, including campaigns for National Condom Week and Mayer Laboratories.

The double entendre of the SAFE SEX BANG exhibition title speaks to the means through which many of the posters impart their message of prevention: as sex-positive images of queer sexuality that have both an advertising immediacy and an informative sense of impact. The living history of this archive presents the visual means through which the LGBT community has attempted to educate itself about safer sex practices during the height of an ongoing health epidemic that continues to affect all of us today.

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Sunday, December 1, 1-4pm – World AIDS Day Reading and SAFE SEX BANG: the Buzz Bense Poster Collection Reception

Exhibition:November 8, 2013-January 31, 2014

Center for Sex & Culture, 1349 Mission Street, San Francisco

Suggested donation $5-50; no one will be turned away for lack of funds.

Join us on World AIDS Day to marvel at the extraordinary HIV/AIDS/safer sex poster collection on our gallery walls and enjoy readings that reference AIDS and its cultural context. Readers include Carol Queen, Julia Serrano, Mark Abramson, and Shar Rednour. Reception begins at 1 pm and the reading begins at 2 pm.

SAFE SEX BANG: The Buzz Bense Collection of Safe Sex Posters spans from 1982 into the 2000s, from San Francisco to New York City stateside and internationally to Australia, Germany, Denmark, and Canada.Circulated at a moment when the queer community experienced the initial ravages brought on by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, these posters comprise a striking aesthetic collection of graphically innovative design that explicitly visualizes diverse LGBT communities and safe sex activism.

Readers bios:

Julia Serano is an Oakland, California-based writer, performer, and activist. Julia is the author of Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity (Seal Press, 2007). Her writings have appeared in anthologies including Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape, Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation and Word Warriors: 30 Leaders in the Women’s Spoken Word Movement.  Julia’s writings have been used as teaching materials in queer and gender studies courses across North America.

Mark Abramson was a Midwestern farm boy who joined the great gay migration to San Francisco in the 1970s. His writing has appeared in the gay press as far back as Christopher Street, Fag Rag, Gay Sunshine and Mouth of the Dragon. Like the central character in his best-selling “Beach Reading” series, Mark Abramson grew up in Minnesota and worked as a waiter in the Castro, but Mark is better known as a bartender and co-producer of “Men Behind Bars,” an annual AIDS benefit and the huge dance parties on San Francisco piers called “Pier Pressure” and “High Tea.

Shar Rednour is the author of The Femme’s Guide to the Universe and editor of Starphkr and the Virgin Territory anthologies; as half of SIR Video she made Healing Sex, Sugar High Glitter City, Bend Over Boyfriend, Hard Love and How to Fuck in High Heels. She’s a mommy blogger and an original member of Sister Spit.

Carol Queen has a PhD in sexology; she calls herself a “cultural sexologist” because her earlier academic degree is in sociology: while she addresses individual issues, her overarching interest is in cultural impacts (gender, shame, access to education, etc.) on sexuality. Queen has worked at Good Vibrations (www.goodvibes.com), the woman-founded sexuality company based in San Francisco that turned 35 years old this year, since 1990. She serves as Staff Sexologist and Chief Cultural Officer. She is also the founding director (with her partner Robert Morgan Lawrence) of the Center www.sexandculture.org), and is a frequent lecturer at colleges and community-based organizations. Her dozen books include a Lambda Literary Award winner, PoMoSexuals, and Real Live Nude Girl: Chronicles of Sex-Positive Culture, which are used as texts in some college classes. For more: carolqueen.com.

For more information on this event and exhibition, contact sexandculturegallery@gmail.com

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I’m happy to say that we have launched the Kickstarter campaign for the first catalog to be published by the Center for Sex and Culture Gallery. We have chosen a very important body of work for this first effort: our collection of safer sex posters, graciously donated to us by Buzz Bense. I would very much appreciate any donation you can make to support this project, but also your efforts in spreading the word about this campaign.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/595936600/cscs-safer-sex-poster-exhibition-catalog

Many of us remember vividly the period in the 1980s and 90s when campaigns promoting safer sex practices developed, looking back on the visual materials from these campaigns has been both a moving experience of memory and an exciting new perspective of the work many of us did in that time. As these posters and other materials begin to pass in to something more like history than recent memory, we get to see them again. Thankfully, we can now see a little more of their artistry rather than only seeing the urgency that created their message.

These materials are of both cultural and artistic significance. They were often created by advertising and illustration professionals who were suddenly free to apply their best and most innovative ideas that may have been constrained by mainstream business. With the lives and health of their community at stake, and often their own, these artists brought all of their skill to bear on efforts to save lives.

The catalog will contain images of these collected materials, primarily posters, including safer sex campaigns from North America, Europe, and Oceania. We will also include an art historical essay by Alex Fialho as well as Alex’s interview of Buzz Bense about the collection he accumulated and a foreward by Dr. Carol Queen.


Please join us in producing this important volume of materials, both for the preservation of history and to communicate to the world more broadly the great power of the work so many did in desperate times. Your contribution is critical to our success. You will be rewarded at various levels with copies of the catalog, original posters (duplicates from the collection), CSC Library tote bags (it’s like we are PBS, no?), and even a personalized tour of the archive guided by our gallerist, Dorian Katz and CSC executive director Dr. Carol Queen.
CSC’s exhibition displaying nearly 100 of these safer sex posters from the Buzz Bense collection opens on November 8 at 7 pm, and runs through January 31st 2014.


Thank you so much for your support of this project. It means a great deal.

Dorian

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SAFE SEX BANG! Catalog Release PartyBuzz Bense Safe(r) Sex Poster Collection – next gallery reception Friday, 1/24, 7/10pm Many of us remember vividly the period in the 1980s and 90s when campaigns promoting safer sex practices developed, looking back on the visual materials from these campaigns has been both a moving experience of memory and an exciting new perspective of the work many of us did in that time. As these posters and other materials begin to pass in to something more like history than recent memory, we get to see them again. Thankfully, we can now see a little more of their artistry rather than only seeing the urgency that created their message.These materials are of both cultural and artistic significance. They were often created by advertising and illustration professionals who were suddenly free to apply their best and most innovative ideas that may have been constrained by mainstream business. With the lives and health of their community at stake, and often their own, these artists brought all of their skill to bear on efforts to save lives.Please join us in appreciating this important collection, which communicates the great power of the work so many did in desperate times. CSC’s exhibition displaying nearly 100 of these safer sex posters from the Buzz Bense collection runs through January 31st 2014.
Catalogs will be for sale and we’ll have cake, wine and other treats.

SAFE SEX BANG! Catalog Release Party
Buzz Bense Safe(r) Sex Poster Collection – next gallery reception 
Friday, 1/24, 7/10pm

 Many of us remember vividly the period in the 1980s and 90s when campaigns promoting safer sex practices developed, looking back on the visual materials from these campaigns has been both a moving experience of memory and an exciting new perspective of the work many of us did in that time. As these posters and other materials begin to pass in to something more like history than recent memory, we get to see them again. Thankfully, we can now see a little more of their artistry rather than only seeing the urgency that created their message.

These materials are of both cultural and artistic significance. They were often created by advertising and illustration professionals who were suddenly free to apply their best and most innovative ideas that may have been constrained by mainstream business. With the lives and health of their community at stake, and often their own, these artists brought all of their skill to bear on efforts to save lives.

Please join us in appreciating this important collection, which communicates the great power of the work so many did in desperate times. 

CSC’s exhibition displaying nearly 100 of these safer sex posters from the Buzz Bense collection runs through January 31st 2014.

Catalogs will be for sale and we’ll have cake, wine and other treats.

PERMALINK

Magnet @ Safe Sex Bang Closing Party and Discussion

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 Saturday, 1/25, 6-8pm 

https://www.facebook.com/events/686159438103329/?previousaction=join&source=1

Join us at the Center for Sex and Culture as we host a closing party and discussion for The Buzz Bense Poster Collection Safe Sex Bang.

There will be a brief discussion on the exhibition and safe sex poster making with collector Buzz Bense, co-curators Alex Fialho and Dorian Katz, designer Scott Sidorsky, and Director of Magnet Steve Gibson.

More on the exhibition: SAFE SEX BANG: The Buzz Bense Collection of Safe Sex Posters spans from 1982 into the 2000s, from San Francisco to New York City stateside and internationally to Australia, Germany, Denmark, and Canada. Buzz Bense has collected and produced safe sex posters aimed at members of the queer community since the mid-1980s. In March 2012, Bense donated his collection to CSC of over 150 unique posters, accumulated primarily during his time as a graphic designer with various safe sex advocacy groups and as founder of the San Francisco safe sex club EROS. Circulated at a moment when the queer community experienced the initial ravages brought on by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, these posters comprise a striking aesthetic collection of graphically innovative design that explicitly visualizes diverse LGBT communities and safe sex activism.

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The Center for Sex & Culture, located in San Francisco at 1349 Mission St. between 9th and 10th, strives to promote creativity, information, and healthy sexual knowledge.


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