For my collaborative artwork, I was paired with Dr Chase Cannon, of the Department of Medicine at the University of Washington and affiliate of Public Health-Seattle & King County, who is presenting a paper on the use of doxycycline as a post-exposure prophylaxis for the prevention of STIs, specifically chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis, or DoxyPEP. In a series of email exchanges, Dr Cannon explained and shared with me some of his research findings on DoxyPEP, which although has been known to researchers for a while now has yet to be fully adopted or endorsed by federal health agencies and health service providers as a recommended regimen for STI prevention. Because of this, Dr Cannon stressed to me the importance of ongoing research into proving the efficacy of DoxyPEP, in order to stem the rising cases of STIs, especially among high risk groups including MSM and trans people, and those who engage in risky sexual practices. There is a lot of stigma around the use of PEP and PREP regimens, as we have seen in the adoption of such treatments to prevent the spread of HIV, and the same is happening in regards to the adoption of DoxyPEP.
In my interpretation of Dr Cannon’s work, I was inspired to look at and reference some of the graphic work that was done by HIV/AIDS artists and activist groups in the 1980s and 90s, like ACT UP and ‘Silence=Death’, because I sensed a parallel between the need to impart vital information about DoxyPEP to as wide an audience with as much visual impact and urgency of tone. In a way, the paintings are done like a branding exercise for DoxyPEP.
The whole thing is meant to be literal, in your face and immediate. There is a big emphasis on text because I wanted to imprint ‘DOXYPEP’ as a kind of catchy visual meme. Meanwhile the combination of the smaller text and figures in the painting impart an overall whimsical narrative of the discovery of Doxycycline as a kind of magic! Lastly, I was compelled to leave the painting somewhat roughly finished, because the story of DoxyPEP itself is still unfolding. Hopefully, the story of DoxyPEP will have a positive ending.
Painting, drawing, digital, text
Graduating with a BA in Writing from the University of Canberra in 1998, he has worked in various capacities as a writer/editor, event organiser, musician and queer activist in Kuala Lumpur.
In 2008, with Pang Khee Teik, he co-organised Seksualiti Merdeka, a gender and sexuality rights festival in KL, until it was banned by the Malaysian government in 2011. In 2012, he founded Rainbow Rojak, a series of queer-inclusive themed parties in KL, which continues until today.
Although he began exhibiting his works in 2005, it was only in 2016 that he began pursuing his art practice full-time, presenting his first solo Red & Gold at Raw Arts Space, KL.
In 2017, he moved back to his hometown Kota Kinabalu, where he has continued to explore themes of queerness, spirituality and the self, often with a splash of the surreal.
In 2022, he staged his second solo show in two parts, HURT|NEED|UNDO|LIVE and RESIST, at The Back Room, Zhongshan Building, KL.