Photo: Silvija Dogan
Velo de silencio
Muzej Suvremene Umjetnosti (Museum of Contemporary Art), Zagreb, Croatia.
Curated by Zvonimir Dobrovic
Since 2011, Mario Lemešić worked as a cook at the Bjelovar primary school in a small town in Croatia. In 2013 he was the target of a media scandal, as his HIV-positive status was revealed without his consent by the school board and the press. When parents of students found out that an HIV-positive person worked at the school they began boycotting the school canteen. According to Lemešić, the number of children in the canteen from Friday to Monday decreased from 550 to 170. As a result, he suffered from a state of stress and emotional shock and without any concrete help from his employer, decided to go on a sick leave.
After four and a half years of sick leave, legal battles, inquiries and many petitions from the Jutarnji lista newspaper, the Ministry of Education concluded that there were no motives to keep Mario from returning to his workplace. In the 2018-2019 school year, the school organized an awareness campaign for students and parents on the rights of people living with HIV at the request of State Secretary Branka Ramljak.
This work reflects on the social stigma faced by HIV-positive people.
I remain lying down on the floor holding a glass pane while blood is dripping on its surface, belonging to Mario Lemešić, an HIV-positive man diagnosed in 2010.