Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu (President Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation, Nobel Peace Prize Winner 1984): Today our international communities of storytellers are giving us the opportunity to come together and stand up for the principles of universal dignity and fellowship. I invite you all to join us at Real Stories Gallery, so we may harness the power of our humanity and our enormous capacity for creativity, to mobilize our imaginations and weave together through our stories, a vision that we shall reach for which will influence our thoughts and actions towards our kin. God Bless You.
Daniel Ben-Horin (Founder & co-Ceo TechSoup Global): I have watched Real Stories Gallery evolve from the outset in 2009 - a pure vision encountering huge obstacles, but never wavering. The result is what you see: An inspiration to all of us, a path forward for our hearts and minds (and bodies) and a reminder of how technology is there to fulfill human creativity and meet human needs.
Professor Paul Webley (former Director, School of Oriental & African Studies (SOAS) University of London): Stories and narratives help define who we are, and help us understand our world and what it means to be human. And the stories on the magnificent Real Stories Gallery will do all that - but will also have an impact on the world, and help reduce the spread of HIV.
Professor Philip Goulder (Pediatrician (HIV Infection & Immune Control), Oxford): We watch carefully the people who inspire us, and listen to the stories they tell us; what we learn from them shapes what we understand, how we feel and how we act in the world.
Oliver McTernan (Writer, Broadcaster, co-Founder Forward Thinking, former Catholic Priest): I had the privilege of visiting Tunisia during its revolution earlier this year and meeting with some of the young people who through their courageous actions brought momentous change to that country. In the course of our conversations it became clear that these young people had overcome the fear that had dominated their lives and were prepared to risk all in their quest for dignity and agency. They were no longer prepared to tolerate the climate of repression that had robbed them of self respect and freedom to control of their own lives. It was a deep sense of accumulated grievances and injustices that motivated them to act to change their lives in a decisive way. It is well documented of course the significance of the internet in facilitating the changes. People were empowered by the ability to communicate. They used their computers and mobiles not only to organise but to tell their stories. It was soon after returning from Tunisia that I was introduced to the work of the Real Stories Gallery. It struck me that it is the same quest for dignity and agency that motivates these young people from around the world who have been the victims of abuse to tell their stories. Through the use of videos they too are learning to overcome the fear that has gripped their lives and to discover their intrinsic dignity despite what may have happened to them in the course of their early lives. I fully recommend the work of Real Stories Gallery Foundation, who provide these young people with a chance to be free.
Jan Jordaan (Founder/Director of Art for Humanity; Artist & Activist): The modesty of a story can invade our skin, like the sun, like playing in the sand on the beach. A torrent of mixed up thoughts responding to a pandemic that chances its' face every time I open my eyes... And then, there it is, Real Stories Gallery. It brings the gentle touch of humanity into our lives and our thoughts... It breathes a solidarity that goes beyond being mobilised by slogans.
Dr Vishakha N. Desai (former President Asia Society, New York): I urge you to seize the opportunity afforded today by Real Stories Gallery to dispel the destructive stigma assigned to HIV and AIDS and to heal our communities traumatized by this contemporary catastrophe. The arts play an important role in people introducing themselves and their ideas to each other, creating a climate for conversations that enable a deeper understanding and context for the pressing issues of the day. Artists are instrumental cultural messengers, reminding us of who we are and who we would like to be.
Writing to the Law // for Real Stories Gallery (& Rachel) by Carolyn Srygley-Moore (Poet, USA)
I am writing to the law she says, to change the law. Horribly
All that Hitler did was legal in the law, King wrote, or said somewhere.
& where are the rules against the genocide of Darfur?
In one's own home, writing to the law.
Making papermache sculptures of the saints, that are oneself.
Sleeping through the intersection of church & faith.
What do you leave in your locker
but statues of what you want to become, to be, what you want
to change? All is contextual.
Writing about sexual abuse, one must write about sex,
but it is contextual. I am writing to the law to change the law, she says,
this woman of five foot three,
"you could eat soup off my head," she says //
& outside the dressingroom window
the world is on fire, children are on fire, we are on fire
trying to revolutionize the dying
by simply speaking words out loud //
man, horse, God, dolphin // choosing a word & speaking it aloud
with the tenderness of a brain taken from its shell
the Braille of a brain taken from its shell
& sold on the streetcorner with children of Brazil
France New York Turkey. I am writing to the law she says
calling the cops on the cops
calling the Gestapo on the Gestapo //
I am writing with blood not fingernail polish
amulets of blood.
"Call To All Artists" by David Koloane (Artist, Curator, Human Rights Activist, South Africa. 2010)
AIDS Pieta by Ernest Pignon-Ernest
Jean-Paul Genet by Ernest Pignon-Ernest