Melbourne Fashion Festival Cultural Program 2016

Body/Hair, Melbourne Fashion Festival Cultural Program 2016

0 Comments 17 March 2016



Neon Parlour

Review by Jessica Gregory

If you thought VAMFF was over, it is time to reconsider. There are plenty more events to visit if you know where to look. For instance, you’ve still got until the 19th of March to check out Body/Hair at the Neon Parlour in Thornbury – and boy, you’ll be glad you did.

The show is a collaborative effort by a talented group of eight multi-disciplinary makers. At the head of the group is local artist John Gosper, who describes Body/Hair and its aims to: “Explore perspectives of the body through various artistic mediums.”

Body/Hair officially launched on Saturday night, March 12, with viewers invited to enjoy a glass of bubbly and wander through the intimate exhibition space at Neon Parlour. All eight artists were present, chatting with fellow creatives and visitors alike, discussing the work on display. It is perhaps prudent to provide a warning before the content of this show is discussed further. Body/Hair uses a particularly blunt and often confronting form of communication featuring graphic material that may not be for everyone.

The works on display are as diverse as their makers. Viewers walk past Jasmine Moston’s A3-sized pink tapestry that simply reads, “Tuff Titties” that’s followed by a room dedicated to a sculptural mirror form and wall mirrors by Sarah Hopper. A pedestal showcasing the work of Aislin McTavish stands alone on one side of the space, upon which an excessive amount of hair sits beneath casts of vaginas, a lemon, salt and a fork in an almost shrine-like manner. This piece contrasts again against Lish Barraud’s elegant, flowing form hanging from the roof, made entirely from beige elastic bands. As a viewer, the curation makes for a rather unusual experience and I, for one, walked out with feelings of uncertainty. Body/Hair stands out in its presentation and content and it is by evaluating the reasons for this that the viewer can then appreciate its beauty. Why aren’t we exposed to such physically graphic and unapologetic art regularly?

Gosper’s team make strong statements critiquing our society. By using the body as a platform, Body/Hair is able to express the artists’ opinions on social hierarchies and how this affects self-expression, the beautiful versus the grotesque and the desire to be rid of antiquated views on gender binaries. When asked about his cultural commentary, Gosper describes it as “soft activism”, with a stronger focus on beginning a conversation rather than actively opposing social norms. Gosper acknowledges that his work is not always universally adored but states that the drive to create more art keeps him going. “Sometimes the feedback is good, sometimes it’s bad, but it always makes you strive to make more and get better”, he says.

Although the show may not be everyone’s cup of tea, its themes are relevant to every single human on this earth. Gosper and his fellow artists raise essential issues surrounding gender and restriction within our society and attempt to normalise what is stigmatised. For many, Body/Hair will be the start of the conversation but with any luck, it will not be the end.

Body/Hair runs until 19 March 2016 at Neon Parlour. More details here.

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