The succes of the 0+Ball

In a series of interviews on the history of the HIV Vereniging and HIVnet, which were published between 2003 and 2006 in HIVnieuws, several people mention the Seropositive Ball in Paradiso as a distinct event in which they met other people with whom they collaborated for several years after the 0+Ball.note 186 The Seropositive Ball is also mentioned as a moment of change in the development of the HIV Vereniging.

When I discussed the success of the 0+Ball with Heleen Riper, David Garcia, Annette Verster and Jan Dietvorst from Paradiso they all agreed on the special nature of the event, even though it received little press coverage. As Jan Dietvorst pointed out, illness as a cultural phenomenon is not an attractive subject, in addition to which the difference between the political environment of the United States and the political environment of the Netherlands surfaced in a very explicit manner. In general terms the effect of the 0+Ball was that AIDS was addressed and put on the agenda through the diversity of discourses by the variety of participants. The international commitment to other regions in the world was formulated and the 0+Ball was an inspiration for HIVnet. New alliances were made because of it. It was the first time in the Netherlands that issues for women concerning HIV and AIDS were addressed. In specific terms the 0+Ball has inspired, motivated and comforted many individuals each in their own particular circumstances. It was particularly the energy generated by the focus on Living with AIDS that was a relief to many people present. The 0+Network, which facilitated the meeting of other people via mediated presence was a revelation to many. The 0+Network provided an image of the future use of networks, which caused a deep respect and thrill about what may be possible, as well as clashes of misunderstanding.

In the wake of the 0+Ball several things occurred as a result of its inspiration. In Brazil, a group of people, who had been participating in the 0+Network, organized a conference inspired by the 0+Ball later that year (Personal Folder Fold and Follow Up, 1990). The museum of modern art in Amsterdam, the Stedelijk Museum, organized an exhibition to honour Keith Haring, who died of AIDS that same year and in this exhibition the artwork that was on view at the 0+Ball was presented. However, the Stedelijk Museum excluded the electronic gallery that was part of the 0+Network. At the time, and in hindsight, this was a 'silly' decision because the electronic gallery was highly appreciated in the 0+Network, good artists contributed and it was also an image of the future. 'Network Art' had not yet been accepted in museum circles at the time.

Two special performances were produced especially for the 0+Ball: the theatre production "Mr. Zero", written and produced by Martien Krouwel, and the ballet "Elo•, Elo•", made by choreographer Connie Jansen. They toured for several months to theatres all over the Netherlands.

In the years to come Paradiso initiated no specific shows concerning AIDS, and behaved like a classical medium in this sense. Paradiso had contributed by hosting the Seropositive Ball, but did not take any responsibility for the follow up. Paradiso did host several shows by Hellun Zelluf, a gay artist who made very entertaining musicals celebrating Love in the middle of the crisis around AIDS.note 187 These musicals were no follow up to the 0+Ball though, nor did Paradiso initiate them.

HIV net, for which the 0+Network had been a demo, was established as a formal foundation shortly after the 0+Ball and still functions today. Heleen Riper who, with Matthew Lewis, was involved in the creation of HIVnet, together with people from the HIV Union, recalls how a choice was made to start HIVnet as a Bulletin Board System, which is a different technology to that used at the 0+Ball. The 0+Network, based on Internet technology using academic networks and HyperCard stacks as an interface, would require different funding and technical expertise to the by then pretty standard Bulletin Board System technology, which could also be easily and cheaply operated by lay people. The 0+Network could only be supported and built upon if institutions joined in. This may have been possible, but the main issue is that it was not what people wanted. The grassroots approach of the HIV union was chosen, specifically of Tjerk Zweers and Hein Vergeer, who clearly wanted to use a bulletin board system so the network would be within their own control.