Bye Bye Stigma

Online VR exhibition and discussion

Tuesday, 1 December 2020, 6 pm
The VR film will be available from 1 to 6 December.

The event will be streamed live via FB SCCA-Ljubljana

Antonio Giacomin & Hello Gorgeous, Still from Bye Bye Stigma, 2020

On World AIDS Day, we are presenting an interactive virtual reality experience titled Bye Bye Stigma, conceived by Dutch foundation Hello Gorgeous in collaboration with Trieste-based virtual reality creator Antonio Giacomin.

We are organising the presentation and discussion in collaboration with the Magnus section, active within the ŠKUC Association since 1984. In addition to supporting and realising the cultural and artistic expressions of the LGBT+ community, the section does important work in the execution of preventative and support programs in the field of HIV and AIDS.

Discussion guests: Brane Mozetič, Sebastjan Sitar, Leo Schenk, Antonio Giacomin
Moderator: Jernej Škof

The discussion will be held in Slovenian, with the exception of Leo Schenk’s contribution in English.

Today, living with the HIV virus is not just a health issue, but primarily a social hindrance. Stigma remains one of the biggest threats to the quality of life of people living with HIV. The VR experience Bye Bye Stigma was created in order for the visitors themselves to feel, see and hear what it is like to be stigmatised in public or to suffer due to self-stigma. With the experience, the project’s authors aim to contribute to the public discussion about the quality of life of people living with HIV. People living with HIV face various aspects of social stigma, discrimination and internalised self-stigma, linked to prejudices, negative responses and emotional abuse, on a daily basis. We speak of internalised stigma (or self-stigma) when an individual begins to believe the prejudices and negative attitudes others have towards the HIV virus and the people living with it. There are numerous consequences of stigmatisation: rejection by family, friends or coworkers, poor treatment at healthcare institutions, or belated disease stage diagnoses. Among people living with HIV, depression is more common and the risk of suicide higher. The stigmatisation of the diseased originates in the 1980s, when not much was known about the disease and there were no effective treatments available. HIV was linked to death, sex, contagiousness, irresponsible behaviour, homosexuality and drug use.

The VR experience uses headsets that recreate the space in which users can relive the public stigma and self-stigma through various senses: feeling, hearing, sight. The experience is structured so that the visitor first experiences what it is like to be stigmatised (social stigma), followed by self-stigma (when it is internalised). This negative part of the experience is followed by the positive experience of self-acceptance and social support. The emotional phases are addressed in the following order: shame, guilt, fear, depression, grief, loneliness, insight, confrontation, recognition, visibility and self-acceptance. All of these phases are also the steps usually taken by people diagnosed with the HIV virus.

Due to the public lockdown and gallery closure, we have adapted and transferred the exhibition, planned for the SCCA Project Room, online. An adapted version in the form of a 360-degree video is available and can also be viewed as a VR experience with the help of VR glasses.

If you wish to view the film in VR, you will require a smartphone and special phone-compatible VR glasses.


Antonio Giacomin aka fluido was born in 1974 in Trieste, where he lives and works. In 2015, his company, where he works as a creative technologist and video designer, began experimenting with spherical media. In 2016, he became the custodian of the VR section of the Trieste Film Festival and began collaborating with Casa del Cinema in Trieste, where he organises events, workshops and panels on XR culture. As of 2018, he is a visiting custodian for VR content at the FeKK Ljubljana Short Film Festival and the ShorTS International Film Festival. He was the creative producer and creative technologist of the In the Cave project, presented at the 75th Venice Film Festival in 2017.

Leo Schenk is a coordinator with the Dutch non-profit foundation Hello Gorgeous, whose aim is to normalize living with HIV by fighting stigma. The foundation publishes an eponymous glossy magazine about living with HIV, produced by people with HIV and others directly involved with them. Launched in late 2012 and published four times a year, hello gorgeous is mainly distributed free of charge through HIV treatment centres in the Netherlands. Articles in English are also available on the magazine’s website.

Brane Mozetič started his work in the AIDS field as part of the ŠKUC Magnus section in 1988. A year later, he was one of the founders of the AIDS-help group, which carried out several preventative campaigns and, in collaboration with the Institute of Microbiology and Immunology, offered the only free anonymous HIV testing for several years. He was a member of the National AIDS Committee for a number of years, he has attended numerous international AIDS conferences and consultations in Slovenia and abroad, he is a longtime AIDS activist and author of articles on the topic of AIDS, he has carried out numerous preventative activities, led the Galfon distress helpline, and coordinated the activities of the self-help group since its inception. As translator and editor, he has published several books covering AIDS and living with HIV, most recently a children’s picture book. As the selector of the Ljubljana LGBT Film Festival, he has enabled the screening of numerous films on the topic, both documentary and feature, as well as prepared the post-screening discussions. He has received the Robert Plaque for his work in the AIDS field.

Sebastjan Sitar is employed at the HIV and HIV+ Response Program at Legebitra. He is a counsellor in the field of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, offers support to people with HIV, heads the Kemseks counseling office, and is the chief editor of GEJM Magazine.

Jernej Škof is a culturologist, curator, performer, the head of social and cultural activities for LGBTI people in the ŠKUC Association’s community space at Metelkova, and the coordinator of the ŠKUC Magnus section.


Bye Bye Stigma
VR experience made by Antonio Giacomin,; A production by hello gorgeous; Original concept by Leo Schenk and Stefan Silvestri; Adapted concept by Frank Irving, Leo Schenk, Stefan Silvestri and Bas Timmermans; Stories of people living with HIV from Szymon Adamczak, Andrea Bandelli, Dinah de Riquet-Bons and Leo Schenk; Doctor Thomas played by Tom Johnston; Voices by Andrea Bandelli, Dawn Betteridge, Vladimir Chorchordin and Karen Kraan; Dramaturgy & acting coaching by Róman Luijks; Graphic design by Stefan Silvestri; Spatial sound design Massimiliano Borghesi – Allyouneedissound; Music by René Huysmans; Assistant Francesca Debelli; Sponsored by Janssen Pharmaceuticals

Event production: SCCA-Ljubljana/DIVA Station,, Hello Gorgeous, ŠKUC/Magnus
The event is supported by: the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Health, the City of Ljubljana – Department for Cultur