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Exhibition catalog of CSC’s safer sex poster collection created during the height of the AIDS epidemic for LGBT community education.

Center for Sex and Culture’s Exhibition Catalog of Safer Sex Posters

*Funds raised beyond our original goal will be used to increase the size of the print run.  Thank you!

The Center for Sex and Culture, located in San Francisco, is publishing an art exhibition catalog on our safer sex poster collection in conjunction with an exhibition displaying these posters at our gallery. The 2-month exhibition opens on November 8, 2013.

Buzz Bense, sex activist and graphic designer, donated over 150 unique posters to CSC last year. Bense has collected and produced safer-sex posters aimed at members of the LGBTQ community since the mid-1980s. Circulated at a time when the community was particularly hard-hit by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, these posters comprise a striking aesthetic collection of graphically innovative design that explicitly visualizes homosexuality, diverse LGBTQ communities and safer-sex activism.

SF AIDS Foundation
SF AIDS Foundation

Because of the cultural and historical significance of the posters, we are inspired to share these images and their story with people in the Bay Area and beyond. It is easy to forget details of recent history, especially when related to sexual history because it is less likely to be preserved. This project aims to preserve and share some of what might easily be lost. The book will contain over 20 color reproductions of posters, an introduction by CSC’s executive director, Dr. Carol Queen, and an essay by the New York based art historian and curator, Alex Fialho, and an interview between Buzz and Alex about the history of the collection. Alex has spent time in San Francisco and New York researching and interviewing the people who created these posters as activists, artists, community organizers, members of health organizations and independent graphics designers.

The collection consists of posters, primarily from San Francisco, but also encompasses other cities throughout the United States. It also includes international representations from Australia, Germany, Denmark, and Canada. This historical archive presents the visual means through which LGBTQ people passed on life saving information about safer-sex practices during the height of a health epidemic that continues to affect us today.

We are confident the exhibition and book will function as both an art historical survey of the importance of this collection of aesthetically beautiful and functionally informative posters as well as an educational endeavor engaging the LGBTQ community and beyond.

Brothers Network, San Francissco
Brothers Network, San Francissco

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

SF AIDS Foundation
SF AIDS Foundation
"everybody's doin' it!" National Condom Week
"everybody's doin' it!" National Condom Week
"Keep a Rubber on Hand" San Francisco
"Keep a Rubber on Hand" San Francisco

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Because CSC is a non-profit run by volunteers dedicated to cultural and educational events about sex, we face particular fundraising challenges. This has been the case for all arts organizations as well as individuals whose creative and intellectual work touches upon issues of sexuality. We believe in the value of what the Center for Sex and Culture has achieved for 17 years as a space for adult sex education, cultural programming and as a resource for scholars and the general public. This is our first book project and we are determined and excited to begin publishing scholarly materials about our extensive collection and archive. We have more books projects in mind that further our essential mission of education and examination of sex and culture. The successful funding of this project will initiate CSC’s publishing program with a safer sex bang!

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    archival EROS poster, a men’s sex club in SF co-founded by Buzz Bense

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    archival "keep a rubber on hand" poster +2 CSC exhibition catalogs + 2 EROS posters + CSC tote for 1st 10 people at this level (image of poster at bottom of page)

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