What is Alien Sex Club?
Alien Sex Club is a new art installation by British artist John Walter, which will explore the relationship between visual culture and HIV today. It will take the shape of a ‘cruise maze’, a spatial form common to sex clubs and gay saunas. During the early AIDS crisis of the 1980s and 1990s, many public sex environments (often including cruise mazes) were closed by law. More recently, cruising for sex has moved online with apps such as Grindr, Scruff and Hornet gaining in popularity. However, many men still want to meet in person and anonymously for sex, despite the risks involved.
Alien Sex Club will use the device of the ‘cruise maze’ to bring together works that address the complex subject of contemporary sexual health. Walter’s research into the ‘cruise maze’ has led him to posit that substituting the maze typology with that of the labyrinth may play a role in addressing the subject. The mythology of the maze is associated with achieving trance‑like states, risk and addiction. Replacing this with the physical and psychic states related to labyrinths, which involve linear, meditative and ritualistic paths is a provocation to consider the issue anew. The architectural installation, which will be presented in London and later in Liverpool, will host fortune-telling performances, free rapid HIV testing for visitors and a series of public events that aim to provide audiences with a new vocabulary for understanding and talking about HIV and the factors contributing to its transmission.