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People's Choice Award Winner
Revee Bendixen for
LONESOME COWBOY — 2020
Oil on canvas
This piece examines the cowboy as a symbol of masculinity but also as a countercultural ‘queer’ icon in conjunction with contemporary societal attitudes towards gender, sexuality, and the definition of masculinity in this modern world.
Image credit: Lauren Dunn
2021 FINALIST DETAILS
Set In Stone — 2020
AI generated images on wallpaper and video | Dimensions variable
A series of marble faces, generated by AI, as it learns to create and update its bias on gender. First it is trained to generate masculine marble faces, fixed, immovable. Then marble feminine faces are added. It learns to change, a transgender neural network, updating its knowledge and its experience as it goes. Then the marble starts to give way, non-conforming self-expression, colour, joy, emerging as the gender becomes unfixed, non-binary. Through this evolving conceptual artwork, I am exploring how my machine creates images representing gender and if it holds onto its trained bias.
The faces you see are moments in time in the training of the Deep Convolutional Generative Adversarial Network as I manipulate the dataset it relies on to challenge its bias. As it learns it generates sample images to show its progress and understanding.
The marble texture recalls classical sculpture, but also the rigidity of the opinions of some people about the supposed immutability of gender. The addition of colour symbolizes the breaking free of gender constraints, of leaving the stone behind and gaining warmth and colour.
J. Rosenbaum is a Melbourne AI artist and researcher working with 3D modelling, artificial intelligence and extended reality technologies. Their work explores posthuman and post-gender concepts using classical art combined with new media techniques and programming.
J is a PhD candidate at RMIT University in Melbourne at the School of Art exploring Computer Perceptions of Gender and the nature of AI generated art and the human hands behind the processes that engender bias, especially towards gender minorities. Their artwork highlights this bias through programmatic interactive artworks and traditional gallery displays. They speak at conferences worldwide about the use of artificial intelligence in art and have exhibited all over the world. J’s artwork has been supported by the City of Melbourne Covid-19 Arts Grants and has won the Midsumma Australia Post Art Prize.
J works with classically inspired aesthetics with the latest technologies to create a speculative future grounded in the aesthetics of the past to show that gender minorities have always been here and will continue into the future.
Like a torrent spills the bed — 2020
Two channel HD video 7:20 min
Like a torrent spills the bed is a new performance work exploring the relationships between agriculture and Australian nation building narratives.
Performers Megan Payne and Lydia Connolly-Hiatt emulate the movements and forms of what I imagine to be protagonists in stories of animal husbandry. The works brings together the elements of Megan and Lydia’s close friendship, their casual intimacy and training as dancers, alongside a queer gaze as a way of thinking through colonial stories of masculine labour.
Mira Oosterweghel is an artist living and working on the stolen lands of the people of the Kulin Nations. Her recent work is informed by settler narratives and her childhood experiences of farm life and working in a shearing shed on Gunditjmara land. Selected exhibitions include: Objects for ruminant restraint, 2019 at Bus Projects; Figuratively Speaking, 2018 curated by Laura Lantieri at CCP; Fake it til you make it or you’ve got the power, 2017 at TCB Art Inc; Primavera 2016, curated by Emily McCormack at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; Screen as a Room, 2016 curated by Nikki Lam at the Substation, Melbourne.
The First Person I Came Out To Was An MSN Chatbot — 2020
Single Channel Video (3D animation)
The First Person I Came Out To Was An MSN Chatbot is a conversation between two animated figures standing on a glowing platform in a void. Their dialogue is taken from a conversation between two online chatbots discussing love, intimacy, gender identity, and marriage. Their responses sometimes contradict themselves, highlighting the limitations of the AI generating the responses, while also unintentionally mimicking an element of human nature. The title refers to the artist's own admission of queerness to an AI while young.
The work represents ideas of play and intimacy in digital spaces with artificial intelligence as a virtual safe space for exploring one's own queerness. The round, colourful style of the figures, as well as the text boxes, are in reference to forms of new media explored by the artist during adolescence, where customisable avatars could be used as gender exploration and role-play in video games allowed for safe investigation into same-sex relationships.
Glynn Urquhart is a Melbourne-based multidisciplinary artist working primarily with digital animation, projection, and photography. A graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts, his work deals with themes surrounding the physical, the digital, and the spaces that exist between the two. He has had his work shown at solo and group art shows locally around Melbourne, as well as animated short films screened at film festivals internationally. Projection work of his has also been shown at White Night, Gertrude St Projection Festival, and West Projections.
@tand0c (twitter, instagram) tand0c.weebly.com
Euphoria — 2020
Watercolour and pencil on watercolour paper | 210mm x 297mm
During the pandemic, I grew out my hair and by the end of it, I started to struggle with how I view myself and felt uncomfortable in my own skin. The moment I got to cut my hair at the end of Melbourne's second lockdown was a joyous moment and I finally felt like how I view myself again.
Kate is a non-binary artist and animation student from Melbourne. They love experimenting with traditional and digital mediums. Their interests include watching anime and cartoons, dogs, collecting tattoos and making zines.
All Day I Dream About Sex — 2019
Birch plywood, synthetic polymer, and neon | 1200 x 1800 mm
As a teenager during the 1970s and 80s the idea that ADIDAS stood for All Day I Dream About Sex was a great joke. With my hormones raging it was also certainly true of me, but growing up in rural Victoria I was on constant alert - terrified of being outed as a poofter.
When I came across an old hand painted ADIDAS sign in a Castlemaine laneway a few years back I was reminded of the acronym.
I regularly walk past the sign watching the graffiti accumulate, and like my fear the sign has faded. As a bittersweet reminder of youth I decided to recreate it, preserving the sign in a moment of time. No longer feeling the need to hide my dreams, I've added my own graffiti to declare my desire.
Martin John Lee is a multidisciplinary artist living on Jaara country, in Castlemaine, Victoria. His practice is predominately installation-based and spans a variety of media, including video, painting and textiles. Martin’s work explores the contemporary dynamics and intersections of masculinity, cultural norms and societal expectations.
Martin's current projects include PLAY ON, a two-channel video work supported by Regional Arts Victoria exploring the emotional effects of the cancellation of male contact sport during Covid-19 restrictions, and, in collaboration with composer Wally Gunn, a sound installation at Castlemaine Railway Station, supported by Mount Alexander Shire’s Get Lost Quick program.
In 2019 Martin completed a Masters of Contemporary Art at the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA), and was awarded the Majlis Encouragement Award at the VCA Graduate Show. He also has a Graduate Certificate in Visual Art from VCA, 2017, and a Bachelor of Art (Ceramic Design) from Monash University, 1992.
Handstands as Queer — 2020
Linocut | 630 x 650 mm
This artwork celebrates the ways that my handstand practice has enabled me to reclaim my queer pride.
I have identified as queer since I was a teenager in the 1980s, although it wasn’t until 90s that I found my tribe. But in 1998 I had a brain injury and alongside a great number of losses, my sense of self and identity became very uncertain. For years, I secretly and sadly believed that I had also lost my queerness and was now heterosexual. I place blame for that belief upon the systemic homophobia within abusive medical and psychiatric systems that further silenced and traumatised me.
Six years after the brain injury, I became obsessed with learning how to handstand, perhaps intuitively knowing that a daily handstand practice would not only help me rehabilitate my fragmented brain and body, but also facilitate pathways to creatively find my new self. It is in part through my handstands, that I found my way to disability pride and through that my queer pride.
My sexual identity did indeed shift with my brain injury. And in recent years, it has been joyous to reclaim my new queer identity, and re-join a community that for the most part, welcomes all of our intersecting identities.
Larissa MacFarlane is a Naarm/Melbourne based visual artist and disability activist, working across a printmaking, community and street art practice. Her work is informed by the fast-changing urban industrial landscapes of Melbourne’s West, to investigate ideas of belonging, place, healing and change. Using her 22-year-old brain injury, she also champions Disabled culture, community, identity and pride.
Since 2006, Larissa's work has been seen in galleries and streets across the state. Her street art investigates her daily ritual of performing handstands, a key part of her disability self-management, and has been shown at the Arts Centre Melbourne and the Warrnambool Art Gallery.
For almost two decades, Larissa has been involved in the Self-Advocacy and Disability Justice movements, leading and collaborating on many community arts projects. In 2017, she led Australia’s first collaborative Disability Pride murals and has since produced several more, including a short film that documents that infamous first mural.
Larissa currently sits on the board of Arts Access Australia and was recently nominated for a 2020 Aspire Awards.
Top Surgery Recovery Series (Sever, Numb, Silence, Sense) — 2018
Digital Print on 100% Cotton Rag using Ultra Chrome Ink
First Printing, 1 of 1 | Custom Framed Print: 550 x 720 x 25 mm (each)
Price: $2,400 (set of 4)
This series explores the intimate realities and complications of Samuel’s experience of undergoing ‘top surgery’, a double mastectomy and chest masculinisation surgery in 2018. He situates his narrative within outer space, using the metaphor and the setting of a space shuttle to represent the transgender body itself as a vessel in transition. Samuel engages with the surgical and medicalised nature of this procedure, as well as the emotional toll it took on his mind and body to reconnect after enduring these changes.
This series reflects on the intense amount of preparation and years of anticipation for Samuel to finally reach this moment of receiving his gender affirming surgery. It was a confronting adjustment to inevitably let go of the body and the pain that had been carrying him up until that moment, to then allow himself to feel at ease.
Samuel references previous scenes, items, and imagery from his 2017 comic series How to be a Gender Explorer, with all the tools that helped him navigate his transition, as he now embodies the ‘future self’ he yearned to be.
Samuel Luke Beatty is an artist who works across traditional and digital illustration, as well as forms of printmaking, artist books and embroidery. His practice uses graphic narratives and metaphors of space exploration to explore the intimate realities of his transgender body being a transitional space in itself. His use of autobiographical storytelling re-examines the gravitas of his transgender experience, to provide positive validation, visibility and trans representation.
His work engages in vulnerable, often private, moments of queer bodies navigating and occupying space, and the process of recognising yourself after affirming your gender. Samuel continues to document his gender transition, as he explores expansive possibilities of cosmic parallels of his post-operative body to planetary bodies shifting and changing over time.
Samuel recently graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours Class 1) from UNSW Art & Design. Samuel currently lives and works on Bidjigal land, in Sydney, NSW.
@nhojrepsog (INTSA) www.johngosper.com
enter_text_33 — 2020
Archival ink printed on Canson Photographique Rag 310gsm | 841 x 594 mm
edition of 11 (with additional x 2 AP)
This work presents the idea of 'techno~chauvinism' as suspicious. The fear of automation is a political concern akin to the Luddites of the 19th century (of whom were an underground secret organisation of British textile workers that formed to destroy newly programmed textile machinery as a form of protest). Does the voracious and seemingly unquestioned application of technology improve our lives? Are there strategies in which we can engage healthy discourse surrounding the methodology of 'progress.' Made from discarded cords and e-waste, 'enter_text_33' uses sports prosthesis and athleisurewear tropes to question the automation of fashion.
John Gosper is Tongan Diaspora, queer + non-binary artist, living and working in Narrm upon the lands of the Kulin Nations. John seeks to generate ways in which image-making can destabilise the neutrality of dominant identities through figurative embodiment. Through dismantling the 'white' gaze, John is interested in challenging the subversive and violent legacies of colonial conditioning.
The Red One — 2020
Oil on canvas | 1780 x 1120 mm
Cub Sport and their message of self-acceptance and pride is entirely represented through the brushstrokes made by queer artist Kyle KM's hands. The artwork pays homage to Thomas Gainsborough's 'Blue Boy' and Kyle consciously reinterprets the status symbols that boasts wealth and power with the masterful royalty of a full body portrait adorned in the luxury of the times. Proudly holding four microphones, Tim wields the LGBTQIA+ rainbow flag along side the first initial of each band member.
Kyle was born in Christchurch, New Zealand and spent his childhood creatively exploring all his passions of singing, acting, dancing, arts, and performing.
In 2011 he began to focus on the fundamentals of drawing and began exploring art styles and techniques. This was followed by years of creating a solid foundation of skills to build his practice and style on top of. He has travelled the globe extensively, breathing in as many cultures and expressions of identity as is presented to him. Taking a philosophical and sociological appropriation to the queer aspects of infinite cultures.
The near decade from ’11-‘19 was mainly composed of self education in the skills of life drawing, colour theory, oil techniques, and more. This student mentality period was completed by travelling to Los Angeles and studying under artists Michael Hussar, Kevin Llewellyn, David Cheifetz to solidify his understanding of his own practice. To create art using the classical artistic techniques of old [and new] masters. With one particular affinity to artist Rembrandt Van Rijn.
Settling down in Narrm [Melbourne] Australia Kyle works to develop his art practice further in an endless exploration of self. With his main passion working in oil colour. He has a focus of creating emotive, dark, figurative, and Queer artworks that explore the creative identity. Taking old world styles and traditional oil painting practices he reinterprets them with modern subjects and in Queer cultural themes.
COWBOY BLUES — 2020
oil on canvas | 594 x 420mm
As a queer artist I explore homosexual or lesbian imagery that is based around the issues that evolved out of the gender and identity politics. This abstract piece explores the cowboy as a gay icon and pays homage to the subversive iconography of the cowboy within the queer community.
Revee Bendixen is a visual artist with over 10 years’ experience in painting with various mediums. They possess a strong sense of artistry, individual technique and style throughout their portfolio.
The Pink Door Cottage of Solace Island — 2020
Cardboard, balsa wood, oils and wood | 1520 x 1000 x 400
Covid19 has been raising terror on us, and in this work I seek the flight of the stairs to the pink door to embrace my solace.
Selwyn Hoffmann uses various media to explore a range of original ideas and fascinations in his work. Selwyn holds a number of recognised qualifications and an ability to use painting, drawing, sculpture and other forms as expressive languages to create art. His motivation renewed after settling down in Collingwood among a rich artistic community. Selwyn is a member of the Australian Deaf community, and is fluent in Auslan; he utilises this lived experience to produce his ideas, theories and work addressing Australian Deaf history in his artwork.
Selected: The Shipwrecked of the thereafter / Not selected: The Travelers of the thereafter & Meraki — 2020
Oil on paper | 620 x 450 X 30 mm
You bid me farewell as you set sail across the globe in search of humanity.
It was a year ago, a century ago
Bruised and battered the wave returned you back with your soul shipwrecked.
Something was lost, but where there is water, where there is a wave there is hope.
Return to me, return to me my dear soul for humans have taken you away from me.
Nyulla has only been painting since July 2019. She has never learnt to paint or draw. She follows her heart and hand allowing them the freedom to express her emotions.
She works intuitively and is surprised by what appears as her hands move and her mind is immersed in the moment. This is a place where she can be perfectly happy; a place for reflection; her own interior landscape.
She does not apply restrictions on herself, whether how traditionally one should mix colours or which strokes to use etc.. she just paints. In a sense she enjoys not having learnt to paint or knowing painting rules.
Nyulla has been published in two UK art books.
OUR LIFE IS ONE OF LIGHTS AND SHADOWS (After David McDiarmid's "Rainbow Aphorism") — 2019
Sculptural installation (wood, acrylic paint, 6” electronic disco light) | 320 x 1470 x 540 mm
A hand-made, white, painted coffin, embellished with black painted, hand-written words from the 1990 San Francisco “Queer Nation” manifesto; a call-to-arms, a memoriam, declaration, and epitaph of solidarity (further referencing Lucas' 2015 "Queer Nation" Midsumma installation work)
The casket is lined inside with a synthetic rainbow flag, as a single 6” disco light silently spins; a morbid party, attempting to coalesce both a solemn, respectful memento-mori and tongue-in-cheek camp-ness, that our queer family is infamous for. Now, in the presence of 2020 - our dancefloors are dead, our parties and spaces are empty, but we dance on.
The title of this work is a homage to one of David McDiarmid "Rainbow Aphorism" works, “Girlfriend, our life is one of lights and shadows” 1994.
Matto Lucas is an Australian artist, photographer, creator, curator and art facilitator working within mixed and digital media, with a preference for photography and performance. In 2013 Lucas was awarded a Lifetime Membership to Midsumma for his continuous work and commitment as a visual artist within the LGBTQI community.
In 2015 Lucas operated as Coalesce ARI’s President for the first half of the year.
Represented commercially by Artman Gallery in 2013, In 2011 Lucas was shortlisted for the Metro Gallery Art Award, and shortlisted for the AGENDO13 young emerging artists prize in 2013, the Sunshine Coast Gallery New Media Art Prize in 2015 and The Footscray Art Prize in 2017 and won first place in the 2019 Picturing Footscray Photography prize.
Lucas has been involved in a large number of exhibitions nationally.
Lucas was the Visual Arts Mentor at the Bendigo South East College’s Academy of Creative Arts for 2016 and 2017, previously operated as the Vice President and sat as a committee member at Trocadero Artspace Footscray from 2016 - 2019 and is a current volunteer at the Centre of Contemporary Photography in Collingwood has sat on the committee for the One Night In Footscray Festival since it’s inception.
Lucas currently lectures Visual Media & Design at the Australian Institute of Music Melbourne and a seasonal lecturer of Visual Art at LCI Melbourne, is the creator and operator of Melbourne Art Review and co-host of Drinking With The Artist Podcast and operated as the Digital Arts Officer under a Working For Victoria Contract for Hobsons City Bay Council Creative City from October 2020 - March 2021.
NOT URS — 2019
Found Bedding and Haberdashery, Gold Thread, Mother's Dress | 2000 x 1000 mm
Why should I have to remind you?
As medieval Sheela Na Gig sculptures exposed and exaggerated the female genitalia, I too have exaggerated the form using soft slippery materials from the beds of others and garments often worn by women for the male gaze. I reassert the subject as the property of the female.
I should not have to remind you that it's not yours.
Emma Armstrong-Porter is a visual artist, educator and a co-founder of NOIR darkroom Gallery and Photographic Space in Melbourne Australia. Her practice most probably employs the graphical yet organic nature of relief printmaking but she also makes images of the often unseen using chemistry-based photography techniques and dabbles in textiles. Her art is influenced by the language of tattoos, living with autism and mental illness, being queer, institutionalisation, consumerism and suburbia, usually resulting in visual narratives.
@shannonmaypowell @__softwear__ @m0rtabella shannonmaypowell.com
The offering of one's body as extraneous clothing — 2018
Two photographic prints on Silk Satin Material | 1400 x 1950 mm
Price: $800 each
The offering of one’s body as extraneous clothing’ invites us to move beyond the fossil of sexuality and into a space where the natural and artificial, the organic and inorganic meet to create a new dialogue that allows us to perceive the world in an objectively sensual way – treating all matter as a thing that feels and has potential to provoke feeling.
"Bodies have become rolls of material that fold and unfold on one another, so that, finally, it is possible to establish a new order, laying silk with silk, wool with wool, cloth with cloth... The offering of one’s body as extraneous clothing not to pleasure or to someone else’s desire, but to an impersonal and insatiable speculative excitement that never tires of traversing it, penetrating it, wearing it.” - Mario Perniola, The Sex Appeal of the Inorganic (philosophies of desire in the modern world)
Marley Stucci is an experience designer and artist who performs and engages upon the unceded land of Gadigal peoples. Driven by their experience of navigating queerness and agency, Marley Stucci constructs worlds in which are playful and subversive, imaginative and revealing. The practice of storytelling is woven through Marley’s manipulation of medium inclusive (but not limited to) spoken word, performance, video and sculpture. Their practice has evolved within the cities of Naarm (Melbourne), Berlin, and Gadigal Land (Sydney); notably exhibiting within Gertrude Street Projection Festival, BLINDSIDE, Collingwood Arts Precinct, ART Biesenthal and Hazelhurst Regional Art Gallery. Their collaboration with Shannon May Powell is a fluid and ever-evolving dalliance with tender and sensory effect.
Shannon May Powell
Shannon May Powell is a queer writer, artist and embodiment facilitator. They explore gender, sexuality and body-centred activism with analogue photography, text, video, and somatic movement therapy. Shannon is of Irish and French settler descent and currently lives and works on unceded Kulin Nation lands. Their work has featured at the Berlin Feminist Film Festival, New York Art Book Fair, Midsumma Festival, Centre for Contemporary Photography, Gertrude Street Projection Festival, BLINDSIDE, Seventh gallery, MPavillion and the Collingwood Arts Precinct. They have featured writing and photography in local and international publications such as Vogue, i-D, Vice and Archer Magazine. Each year since 2018 they have been an artist in residence at the VARDA Artist Residency in California where they spent time researching and producing much of their recent work.