MONSTER ISLAND 2015 / Kudos Gallery (Sydney)
The exhibition Monster Island is the latest installment in my ongoing exploration into contemporary Australian masculinity. In looking to unpack the performance and naturalisation of Australian heterosexual masculinity my practice juxtaposes contemporary male identity with Australia’s convict history and in particular with the figure of the male convict. Drawing upon Gothic literature, the carnivalesque and Walter Benjamin’s notion of the dialectical image the work in Monster Island utilises the metaphor of the monstrous to fore grounding questions of history, narrative, memory and violence.
Within this post-colonial project, Australian history and masculinity are re-animated around the interaction between fantasy and fact. In this alternative Australia, transportation to Terra Australis marked the convicts out as deviant, monstrous incarnations of masculinity, unable to conform to the hegemonic expression of aristocratic masculinity. My practice suggests that from its inception European masculinity in Australia has been both extremely unstable and highly uncertain of itself and that contemporary Australian heterosexual masculinity continues to be haunted by these unresolved uncertainties.
In my work, Australia’s convict past with is its displacement, exile and trauma subsequently evokes a Gothic moment of violent, fragmented loss. However while this monstrous beginning haunts the European Australian imagination it also offers up the possibility for re-imagining the monstrousness of convict masculinity around a productive understanding of difference and repetition.
Repetition in this context is structured around a type of aesthetic and linguistic stuttering. In this space of stuttered remains my practice addresses both the positive possibilities located within the Gothic, monstrous representation of convict masculinity as well as European Australia's ongoing misrecognition of its relationship to the past, to the Australian landscape and to itself.