Inside ‘Alien Sex Capsule’, An Exploration of Sexual Health in Visual Culture

Colorful collages at the intersection of the anatomical and popular culture become the map through which British artist John Walter navigated visual media representations of HIV in previous exhibition Aliex Sex Club, shown at both Ambika P3 in London and at Liverpool’s Homotopia festival. In his takeover of Artlink’s gallery space, that project gets reworked into a capsule version, enigmatically titled Alien Sex Capsule which employs multi-media, multi-sensory means to provoke reactions to this sensitive subject.

The key to navigate the installation comes through a reworking of the cruise maze leitmotif, a structure that would commonly be associated with places of increased sexual risk. From that on, the audience is invited to proceed into a carnivalesque world of sculpture, painting and video that are grounded in his extensive research of contemporary sexual health.

Constantly relying on weaving the personal and the fictional together in his art, the artist has been dubbed as a Maximalist, a firm believer in the power of juxtaposing an eclectic mix of objects, as opposed to finding meaning in isolation. This capsule is no exception to the rule. In typical fashion, Walter’s pairing of vibrant colours, tragicomic humour and re-interpretation of popular imagery such as tarot cards, makes the progressive immersion into such an uncomfortable subject all the more striking, as the intermixing of contexts invites the audience to engage and deconstruct the topics long after they left the exhibition.

The artist will be giving a talk on his project on the evening of September 29th, to which you can book free tickets by clicking here. When discussing his agenda for the evening, John Walter mentions that “the talk will be framed around the show, but will also address my body of work as a whole – on the history of HIV as a subject for art, on zaniness as a critical for art, on shonkiness and my forthcoming curatorial project for Hayward Touring, and the role of the jester within my hospitality works.”

Alien Sex Capsule runs from 18th August to 29th of September at Artlink in Hull. The relocation of this project to Hull’s Artlink comes as a an inclusion in Square Peg, a diversity and disability arts programme funded by Hull 2017. This comes after LGBT 50, a spotlight on LGBT+ culture in different art fields.