Art & Design


Identity at Midsumma

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Paul Andrew interviews Curator, Rachel “Rat” Simpson about Queer City a Midsumma exhibition at Forty Five downstairs….

What inspired Queer City?
The artists themselves inspired the creation of this exhibition. Identity was the theme in mind and we looked through all the submissions we received from a out call to artists. It was a lot like a jigsaw puzzle. There were a number of artists in this year’s festival that would have worked well in this exhibition, but you have to find the right mix. I love nothing more than putting art like Michael Pearce’s beautiful, almost quiet, still pastel drawings in an exhibition with Matto Lucas’s ‘dark’, quick blur movement photos. I hope this creates thought in the viewer to compare the two very different artists and understand that they both have a very powerful story to tell.

The identity Link?
All of the artist’s and images share a link through the theme – identity.  Some, like Cath Johnston, look at her identity through sexuality and gender with her thought provoking bold sculptures creating awareness for every viewer for a number of different issues. Artist Kelly Manning looks at her identity by using the imagery of others. In this series of work she uses strong colourful and at time strangely disturbing imagery of children playing in a dry and void landscapes.

Tell me about the different media used by these artists?
Two great examples of the way the different media is used to represent sexuality I believe are Janet Cater and Ryan Davis.
Janet Carter creates these feminine like sculptures out of rubber inner tubes, tubed rubber and cable ties. Her works focuses on the intersection between gender, desire and sexuality, and the ways in which these work constrain and define our bodies.
Ryan Davis’s work represents sexuality in a more common and perhaps obvious way. His perfectly placed brush strokes capture the human body and all of it beauty and create a sense of calm to the viewer.

Would you describe this art as political art ?
Culturally-minded yes, political no. I believe artists have their own views on whether their work is political or not.

Do you have a personal fave in the exhibition?
It’s so hard to chose but I really do have two fave’s…firstly, Matt Jowett’s project Toy to The World. I love this for a number of reasons, mainly because it brings together all artists whether they are beginners or professionals, gay or straight and puts them in the same place and creates an equal balance between them all. And the bears are super cute as well!

My other fave would have to be Michael Brady’s work with jeans and t-shirt, Vacant Possession. The beautiful delicate everyday items created from paper hang quietly and still on the gallery walls. They are truly beautiful.

Queer City is the collaboration between The City of Melbourne, Arts Victoria, Midsumma Festival, local galleries and artists from the GLBTIQ community. For more info visit:

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