1983. Notes on first solo exhibition: Male Affection, Affectation, Affect.
I had just completed five years full time art school in 1980.
First at a traditional beaux-arts, craft, traditional skills, based college Meadowbank Tafe and then its polar opposite at Sydney College of the Arts. The lecturing staff would advance the avant-garde in Australia, informed by the then current critique of a Minimal/Conceptual art axis, albeit complicated by an Australian post-colonial context.
After a vexed but challenging study at Sydney College of the Arts, my practice became more conceptual based, and a vehicle to contest the nature of art, its materials and histories. I put aside craft for an interrogation of art, culture and its institutions.
My first show was in 1983 after a kind of self-deprogramming from educational institutions, with a new photography gallery called Images Gallery, Glebe. I exhibited ‘directorial’ photographs and mixed media drawings.
The aim of the installation was to question through visual art, the social and personal construction of masculinity, which grew out of discourses on feminism and definitions of self-identity.
The installation included representational drawing, traditional and non-traditional art materials, mix media- blood, string, graphite, colour pencil, Polaroid photographs, ink, and collaged reproductions cut from erotic gay magazines.
The exhibition called ‘Male affection, affectation, affect’ the working title developed from dictionary definitions.
· Affection; being affected, mental state, emotion.
· Affectation; a studied display of; artificiality of manner; pretence etc.
· Affect; (in Psychology), desire as leading to action.
The show ran for two weeks, reviewed by Terrance Maloon who called it a ‘witty lecture on masculinity’. Max Dupain, who was reviewing photographic shows for the Herald at the time, apologised to me that his views were towards straight photography, and could not comment on mixed media art. Although I used photography as a material for investigation, he rejected a review on the basis of it being complicated by a departure from modernist pure photography at the time. The director of the gallery censored the show with a notice on the door that read ‘pornographic material may offend’.