If you're an artist, what kind of art do you make?
photographer from Brisbane, Australia. I live in a leafy gentrified inner suburb with Gavin, my partner of 17 years. I have a nice old warehouse for a studio and I study and teach at an art school. I've just had a monograph published by the Queensland Centre of Photography so I'm feeling pretty chuffed with myself.
About my artwork
My pictures are a sort of diary, i suppose. Mostly they have addressed the issues any western anglo urban gay man would have confronted since the mid eighties.
Early on there was the struggle for legitimacy. Sex between consenting men even in private was only decriminalized in 1990 here. My stuff from the early days was angry. Then there was AIDS and everyone knows what chaos, confusion, grief, despair and guilt that caused.
But after that there were all these guys left who had been told they were going to die so they made all their life decisions on that basis. They had sold their assets, quit their careers, spent their savings and superanuation, run up credit card debts all because they believed they had no future. New drugs gave them back a future but one they were ill prepared for. (going to university was my attempt to reinsert myself back into society).
That seemed to me to be around about the time the gay community went mainstream. All those silly things on tv like queer eye for the straight guy started popping up, all the straight men you met looked kinda poofy. For me gay culture had been a political, subversive, supportive thing, now in my darker moments I can only see it as an orgy of consumption.
HIV+ blokes are still out in the cold, the new legitimacy seems to have overlooked them. They embarrass gays who are so eager to believe that pink is the new black, they abandon any gay identities that still attract straight disapproval. I pity the poor kids who get infected these days, they don't have any support and those greedy bastard websites that have turned barebacking into the biggest fetish around should hang their heads in shame.
For the last couple of years, I've become a bit disillusioned with gay land. They made their bed, if all they want now is pop idol and big brother, who am I to complain. I still make work about what it's like to be me but the things I find myself talking about in my work aren't so related to gay politics. They are more about what I've learned from my experience. I feel like I have a slant on mortality and fate that my straight friends and my younger gay friends for that matter don't have. We all face aging, the possibility of death, we all yearn for love, we're all tricked by the forces that control us. It's not such a hetero/homo thing for me now. Maybe i'm growing up.
I love the idea of Camp, though most people think of it as something frilly and trivial, i see it as having the possibility for something very dark. It's a strategy of recuperation. We all have trials in life, we all have our disappointments, our regrets. Camp lets you turn these around; everything is a joke if you look at the right way, everything is funny. It takes the stuffing out of tragedy or sadness, makes it okay.
Oh yeah, on a technical level, all my images are old fashioned silver gelatin prints, i get the colours on them by using chemical toners. They take ages to make and their not often very big.
Artists I like
My thing at present is for old photos. I like vernacular photographs, ones that didn't aspire to art. I like pictures of people having fun, being cheeky for the camera, the pictures that imply warm relationships. I quite like pictures of muscle cars and dogs too, don't know where that comes from, I'm pet free and I don't drive.
as for named real live artists, I love (no surprises) Joel Peter Witkin, Roger Ballen is just fantastic, I'm a Michael Meads fan. Shellbey Lee Adams is cool, just love Robert and Shana Parke Harrison, especially the new colour stuff, but only because it's new to me. Bill Henson is tremendous, especially when I've had a few drinks, he brings out the 19th century, tubercular dandy in me, I come over all Bronte sister. I really like Marian Drew's work, especially the pondlife and Australiana stuff. Shaun Gladwell is pretty amazing. Dan Estabrook, Robert Flynt are up there.
I'm a sucker for some of the old guys, love Cecil Beaton (what a sweet old queen), Irving Penn does it for me and for some reason I don't understand, I'm really drawn to Norman Rockwell. Not often someone who isn't a photographer gets into my top ten.
I'd like very much to develop my interest in money. People who have lots of it seem to really enjoy it.
Sounds like a great festival, i've checked out what I could find of your work on the web; very impressive, i like what you're doing. Would love to make it over there one day for the festival. At present, Roger Ballen is god for me, i just love it, even the earlier stuff and I bet the reproductions don't do the work justice. I missed it at Stills gallery and now I've missed it in Perth. Just can't travel as much as I'd like on sessional wages (what a whinger). Marian does some wonderful stuff, she's a mate, she's my boss too but even if I didn't know her I'd be a big fan. Hey, probably not out yet but a WA photographer won the Josephine Ulrick prize at the gold coast tonight. Glen Sloggett won, Trent judged and I couldn't be happier. Ever since I saw Cheaper and Deeper and him on the art life, I thought he was cool. For an old tableaux photographer I have a weird thing for that ironic social doc thing.
knock 'em dead with the show. Have you been in touch with the QCP? Let them know what you're up too if not, they're a terrific mob. I helped set up the organisation so I'm biased but it's hot! And Maurice, our director is a visionary, could be nice to see your work over here sometime.
all the best