A VIDEO project exploring gay male intimacy has won the inaugural Star Observer Art Prize as part of the Australia Post Art Prize exhibition at Melbourne’s Midsumma Festival.
Finalist Matto Lucas took home the $500 Star Observer prize for his project Borders Tensions II, in which he filmed himself alone with six different strangers for 10 minutes of uninterrupted footage.
In each clip both he and the stranger wore chemical suits, while the stranger was instructed to do whatever they felt like to Lucas’ passive body.
“It’s a continuation of my work exploring not only body value systems within the queer LGBTQI male community, but issues around passivity, intimacy, and performance,” he told the Star Observer.
“In this body of work I was interested in the physical, mental, and psychic borders established within the political act of homosexual engagement in an intimate sense.”
Lucas sourced all subjects from social media such as Grindr and Scruff as volunteers, and was invited into their private bedrooms to film each segment.
After each session he would talk to the volunteer to understand their actions and to ensure they were okay.
He said the chemical suits were used to convey a few different meanings.
“Initially it was to act as a ‘quarantine’ to the body,” he said.
“This has connotations in queer men’s lives in the form of HIV fear as well as body dysmorphia, depression, and mental illness.
“The suit also removed the ‘normality’ of the setting and allowed for the body to be viewed without sexual connotations or gender.”
The major prize winner who took home the $2000 Australia Post Art Prize was Megan Beckwith for her project Torso.
In the piece, a dancer tried on many different types of torsos, some in the form of Venus de Milo or the Venus of Willendoerf and others that weren’t as traditional.
“In a post-human world the ability to buy new body parts would be an option,” Beckwith said.
“Current advances in medical technology create the possibility of a post-human world and make questions around physicality more complex.
“Even now, new forms of bodies have been created that cross many historical borders that exist between the living and dead, human and animal, male and female.”
The People’s Choice Award will be announced at the end of the Australia Post Art Prize exhibition.
The exhibition is on until February 6 at 69 Smith Street Gallery, Fitzroy. Click here for full details.
The Star Observer is a proud media partner of Midsumma.
For all of Star Observer’s Midsumma coverage, click here