Queer Contemporary

Queerness, as a concept, runs against limiting ideas of self-categorisation, and thus generates expansiveness in the way that people can own their identity. It is this very sense of layered identities and expansiveness that is captured in the National Art School’s upcoming exhibition QUEER CONTEMPORARY.

Coinciding with Sydney WorldPride 2023 and the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, QUEER CONTEMPORARY 2023 comprises two major exhibitions, a suite of public programs, key community partnerships, and site activations, all hosted at the historic Darlinghurst campus in February. 

Oscillating between notions of queerness in historical and contemporary artworks, yet consistently re-centring on the idea of layered identities, Richard Perran’s curated show Braving Time: Contemporary Art in Queer Australia celebrates the work of artists who identify as part of the Australian LGBTQIA+ community and their diverse voices. With featured artists including Amos Gebhardt, Athena Thebus, and Kate Just, Braving Time invites us to trace the richness of contemporary queer aesthetics; from the intimate and sensitive to the unabatedly expressive. 

 Other highlights include Fulgora, curated by EO Gill, which presents a suite of commissioned video works by five Australian-based artists that are punctuated by a selection of films programmed in collaboration with LA-based collective Dirty Looks Inc. Using film and time-based art to illuminate queer histories and liminal spaces across Los Angeles and New York City, the exhibition traces contemporary queer aesthetics through historical works, presenting quintessential LGBTQIA+  film and video, alongside up-and-coming artists and filmmakers. Fulgora speaks to luxuriant video practices that disrupt conventional acts of looking and force us to ask where our pleasure begins. The Australia-based film and video-makers include Tarik Ahlip, Claudia Nicholson, Jimmy Nuttall, Ainslie Templeton, and VT. 

Creating these exhibitions not only functions as a valuable, expressive outlet for queer histories and politics but also serves as a poignant tool for those new to their queerness (or learning how to express it and name it). The importance of this exhibition lies in seeing a range of identities and experiences reflected in gallery contexts. With artists saying “Yes, I’ve been there,” it can welcome visitors to enter into their own sense of how they want to live, fuck, and love. 

Taking place in a period spanning Sydney WorldPride, the fiftieth anniversary of the Australia Gay Pride Week and the forty-fifth running of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, the exhibition’s focus on identities and experiences in historical and contemporary contexts can aesthetically add to the theme of human rights which these other events bring to the fore.   

This essay was originally published in Artist Profile, Issue 61, 2022.

Braving Time: Contemporary Art in Queer Australia
Curated by Richard Perram OAM
3 February – 18 March 2023
NAS Galleries, National Art School, Sydney 

Curated by EO Gill
3 February – 5 March 2023
The Hoff Project Space, National Art School, Sydney

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