Words by Claire Momsen
Bathurst Regional Art Gallery has wowed visitors with its vibrant and oftentimes touching portrayal of gay masculinity in its exhibition, “The Unflinching Male Gaze: photo media and the male figure.”
In collaboration with the New York Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, this exhibition explores the ways in which the male figure has been depicted throughout art forms, from classical figures to Andy Warhol to modern avant-garde pornography.
While Bathurst seems like an unlikely seat for this exploration of LGBTI themes, the Curator and BRAG Director Richard Perram OAM worked closely with both the New York collection and the local community to ensure that the displays were an affirmation of the LGBTI identity. Given the recent debate on the Same Sex Marriage Survey, the exhibition is a timely reminder of the agency of regional LGBTI artists to connect with global artists and express the plurality of their experiences.
In the quest for balance, Perram and his team contrasted the aesthetic with the political, the traditional with the progressive. If someone entered the exhibition with one idea of what it means to be a gay man in modern Australian society, they would walk out changed.
Wandering through the gallery, I was struck by how the atmosphere changed with every new space. Under one spotlight there would be a traditional portrayal of the male body, but it would be closely followed by a subversion of that form. There were jubilant and intimate portraits of LGBTI artists and their muses throughout history, followed by harrowing time-lapses of those same men dying of HIV/AIDS or being persecuted for their identities in Chechnya.
“The Unflinching Male Gaze” is a surprisingly poignant and varied photo exhibition, and well worth a visit to Bathurst.
This exhibition is free, and runs until 3rd December 2017. Visit www.bathurstart.com.au for more details!
I use LGBTI in this article, as this is the acronym that BRAG has utilized in their communications. Please note that this exhibition contains graphic sexual imagery and some distressing content.
To read more from Claire, click here