There is a Surfer in every Australian – an inward feeling to match the expansiveness of that magic view, a wanting to be desirable and to desire, a longing for that elemental passion of bodies sun surf and sand
This week iI sold a key image from my 2011 exhibition that applies the perspectives of a gay neo catholic Melbourne artist to the cultural phenomena that is Bondi using carefully staged studio based photography, exploring and deconstructing the Bondi myth through representations of the male body. I apply the “queer eye to the surf guy” to expand the limits of the myth and its relevance to contemporary art.
The work is not a realistic representation of actual surfers but a symbolic evocation of the components of the surf lifestyle – the elements of beachwear, the surfboard and its accoutrement and the near naked body -in the same way a stage set explores reality without replicating it.
I am inspired by my two recent visits to Bondi particularly the wonderful collection of photographs in the pavilion and the work of Professor Ann Game who has written on Bondi for over 20 years
Initially her work focussed on the role of Bondi in the national imagination and especially referenced the celebration of the body at Bondi.
I was initially inspired by her comment on the bodily narcissism so evident in Bondi that she has captured in the phrase
“We have no heart but skin yes” Anne Game and my images explore the skin of the models
More recently Ann and her colleague have explored the spiritual dimensions of Bondi and my works also attempt a reading of things inside the skin, the private erotic thoughts and spiritual longings of the models and their audience
I have been working on images of unclothed men for over 7 years set in my studio against a painted background of the eureka flag –this exhibition continues the process of staged photographic works
-each of the models enjoys being the centre of the attention of the camera and the viewer laying bare the dynamics of desire that is usually only implied by heterosexual men
Grosshans’ contemporary feminist critique of the hero in film is persuasive and illuminating and can be applied to elements of the Bondi myth –she critiques the mythology of the hero on two levels:
-it sets up an artificial world of the solitary hero whereas in fact the hero exists in time community and society and is defined by a complex interplay with others including the media his team his audience and his reputed sexuality and because it is essentially constructed as a male heterosexual story
“some part of me resists the narrative morphology of the Hero Quest as in service first and foremost to the spiritual evolution of men... it leaves women dangling, forced to contort ourselves to be allowed to come along, be one of the boys, cause that’s where the adventure’s been. In Heroworld woman as a conduit of life shapeshifts to the all too real tether, or to a neutered symbol in simmering float above it all, a reason for male action.”
My work sits firmly in the tradition of Gay men who have critiqued heterodoxy in sport and popular culture, from Frances Bacon’s erotic deconstruction of Edward Muybridge’s the Wresters ( Two figures 1953) to Juan Davila’s dystopian vision and Eric Bridgeman’s confronting contemporary works about homoerotic bonds between rugby players.