From Carrie Miller…
Questions of sex, gender, identity and the body preoccupied many contemporary artists during the 70s, 80s and 90s, an obsession that produced some of the most interesting work of that time. But for a while now these issues seem to have congealed into a banal form of identity politics for artists whose practice has no critical relationship to the history of feminist scholarship or queer theory which informed their predecessors. Sometimes it seems it’s enough to call yourself marginalised and get your gear off in order to be interesting.
SEXES is Performance Space’s latest festival of visual and performing arts which revisits these notions of sexuality and gendered identities in contemporary Australian life and art. There is a group exhibition situated within a larger program of events which allows audiences to assess these ideas in a critical and entertaining context.
The survey of 17 artists spans the iconic feminist art of Julie Rrap, the cock rock of Philip Brophy to the scatological work of queer artist Trevor Fry. There are also performance works, a live participatory clothes-swapping event, readings of erotic fan fiction, a dance-athon – even dirty movies.
It’s an exhibition dealing with conceptual tropes that have become more and more theoretically obtuse and a subculture within art that is at risk of becoming tedious, but thanks to the smart and sexy curatorial approach typical of Performance Space the ideas have been packaged in a way that makes SEXES great adult entertainment for the whole non-nuclear family.
Until December 1
Performance Space, Carriage Works, Redfern.
Pic: Paul Knight, from the series Chamber Music 2009-2013. Courtesy of the artist.