An exhibition with a difference will be on show at the Galway City Library during this month's arts festival.
Speaking Volumes is a flexible, responsive, storytelling project, designed to give marginalised people living with HIV a voice, and it allows the public to hear their stories with the aim of increasing understanding and reducing stigma around HIV.
Joe McDonagh, manager of AIDS West, says Speaking Volumes tells the stories of people who are living with HIV, around half of whom chose to use their real name and an identifiable picture of themselves, while the rest remained anonymous.
Their experiences are diverse, he says. There are stories from gay men who have lived with the condition since the early 80s, and also those who were diagnosed within the last year. There are also women’s stories, many of whom speak about being a mother and HIV positive. The Speaking Volumes exhibition and website, where the stories are showcased, gives the public an opportunity to hear the real experiences of people currently living with HIV.
"The stories are also a great resource for people recently diagnosed or struggling to come to terms with their HIV status, enabling them to hear what others have been through, and feel less alone," he says.
"Speaking Volumes is special because not only is it a community oral history and storytelling project, it is also a work of art.
"Artists design the books and a shelf on which to display them. The installation is visually arresting and the intriguing and tactile nature of the books draws people to engage with the project and listen to the stories."
Many of the speakers have also included email addresses with their stories, so listeners can contact them if they wish to know more.
AIDS West is hosting the Speaking Volumes installation at the Galway City Centre Library where it will be available free of charge to the public during the Galway International Arts Festival July 13 to 26.