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The Art of Being Smart: The Free Condom Project

If there’s a way to make safe sex seem more appealing, this might be it. The Art of Being Smart: The Free Condom Project is an initiative by Third Drawer Down, one of Fitzroy’s quietly cool treasure troves for art, oddities and ephemera, in association with the Victorian AIDS Council and Family Planning Victoria, with the aim of encouraging Australians to take a responsible approach to sexual health by making condoms readily accessible to sexually active people- but in a way that is fun and engaging, rather than authoritarian.

The message of safe sex is one we’ve all heard before- but it doesn’t seem to have sunk in quite as deeply as perhaps it should have. The Australian Study of Health and Relationships found that only 20% of people had used condoms the last time they had sex.  It also found that 20.2% of men and 16.9% of women had been diagnosed with sexually transmissible infections and blood-born viruses.

One solution: make condoms cool by packaging them in cute, quirky designs that almost look like tiny record covers- and give them away for free. Sex and art have always been a popular combination, and The Free Condom Project has taken this on board by giving away 75 000 condoms in music, gift and fashion stores across Victoria, all packaged in whimsical, provocative condom designs created by artists David Shrigley, James Gallagher, Anne De Vries and Kill Pixie.

“Why the link between art and safe sex? Both are positive forms of communication, enjoyable and should be embraced by all adults regardless of sexual orientation or age.” This is the philosophy of The Free Condom Project: to encourage people to enjoy safe sex and take ownership of their health and wellbeing. It’s a small step, but it might be one in the right direction towards changing perceptions about condom use.

The project has been running for a few weeks- but there may still be some left, sp take a peek in Kinki Gerlinki, Fat, Magnation, Polyester Records, Alice Euphemia, Little Salon and other cute and quirky stores around Melbourne. Check out the full list of participating stores and more info here.

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