Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Coffee Talk I: Ninette Murk, Designers Against AIDS

Today is World AIDS Day. Today is the occasion to put AIDS back on the map of causes, because despite much less press than 15, even 10 years ago, AIDS is still present, still lethal, still killing people.

Today is the occasion to feature my first interview on The Change You Wish, and who else could I feature but the amazing Ninette Murk, founder of Designers Against AIDS, a Belgian-based non profit aimed at raising AIDS awareness in the media and the public, using pop culture tools to touch young people?

About 10 years ago, Ninette, then a freelance fashion editor, lost her best friend to AIDS. She decide to make something positive out of this awful experience, and launched Designers Against AIDS (DAA). Since then, various projects have been developed over the years, the latest one being the publication of the book "Designers Against AIDS : the First Decade", celebrating beauty and life with a collection of amazing photos, including an unpublished picture of Marilyn Monroe.

But let's read from Ninette what DAA is all about:

What has DAA achieved so far? And what’s coming next?

I think that we have put the issue of HIV/AIDS back on the map in the minds of young people, for instance with our global annual Fashion against AIDS campaigns/collections with H&M. We will do our 4th collection with them in 2011. As for what’s coming next, my dream is to have condoms in cool looking wrappers for sale worldwide (in collaboration with major brands and celebrities for the campaigns) in every spot where young people visit such as school/university, festivals, clothing and music stores, hairdressers… make suing condoms cool and we can stop the HIV virus from spreading more.

    Why the book “The First Decade”? 

    Because my publisher at Ludion asked me and also because it’s a good thing to have all our past projects in one place, combined with over 100 artist visions on pure beauty from my art collective Beauty without Irony.

    Olaf Breuning - Clouds - 2008

    Playing the Devil’s advocate : It looks like the HIV / AIDS issue is much less present in the media than it used to be. Does that mean that the disease is somehow contained and decreasing? 

    No. It means that the media is bored with reporting about the disease- so it’s up to us to make it interesting and worthwhile for the again. This is why we draw the card of beauty and pop culture and not of fear.

    What do you need now? 

    We need subsidies and other funding to enable us to run our education center and continue with our work and campaigns. Strangely enough, we still don’t receive any subsidies although our work is very valuable and we even get compliments about it from Dr Peter Piot, who was director of UNAIDS for over 10 years.

    What inspires you? 

    People, love, light, life, sunshine, nature!

    What are you thankful for? 

    I'm thankful for my brain and idealism and stubbornness- and for my husband, children and everybody who loves me and who I love.

    Thank you Ninette!

    I have had the chance to have a look at "The First Decade", it is really a beautiful book, celebrating life in all its glory and beauty. You can order it from DAA's website, it would make a great holiday gift for a good cause. You can also visit DAA's webshop for great clothes shopping, supporting this way the International HIV/AIDS Awareness Education Center in Antwerp.

    The most important thing is not to forget about HIV/AIDS, as Prof. Peter Piot rightfully wrote in the introduction of "The First Decade": "AIDS is not over by any means and the world can't afford to ignore this threat".


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