In 2019-2020 I had the pleasure of co-curating Pleasure at RMIT Gallery with colleagues Professor Julian Goddard and Helen Rayment.
The exhibition ran from 29 November to 7 March 2020, and I recall the fabulous opening night event with performances by many of the artists which was certainly a marker of the Before Times – before Covid. Now, at last, the Pleasure catalogue has been released! It has been a long time coming thanks to all manner of pandemic disruptions, but I am thrilled it has finally dropped and is available for readers.
In the online Pleasure catalogue, you can read my curatorial essay, which contextualises Pleasure within my academic research into hybridity and bodily disruptions.
Pleasure stands as one of the three exhibitions which draws on my doctorial research – alongside My Monster: The Human Animal Hybrid in 2018 (RMIT Gallery), and Future U (Co-curated with Associate professor Jonathan Duckworth) in 2021-2022 (RMIT Gallery).
One of the interesting challenges in presenting research to the world – especially a PhD which is a solitary endeavour – is in finding new ways the work can weave into other conversations and discussions, and morph into a fresh creative approach.
This is certainly the case in the exhibition Pleasure, which presents the work of a diverse group of artists who use the body to celebrate joy, humour, flamboyance and the outrageous. From decoration, embellishment and exaggeration to examinations of identity and beauty and its various interpretations, Pleasure explores how artists and designers have used the body as a personal, provocative and at times political canvas from the flamboyant 1980s to contemporary times.
As we examine in the catalogue essays, each curator brought a different perspective to the communal dialogue of the curatorial discussions and eventual rationale. As a researcher, writer and curator, I needed to evaluate how my work could sit in dialogue with other perspectives on the same theme. This is the joy of collaboration, and in Pleasure I feel we achieved what we set out to do. Pleasure is more than the individual perspectives, the exhibition lives as a vibrant reflection on the best of curatorial collaboration.
In Pleasure we are called on to question why we feel the way we do about our bodies and asked to defy the immediate – though hollow – pleasures found in the production and consumption of mass media, pornography and advertising.
The work presented in Pleasure by more than 35 artists challenges our ideas on what pleasure is, and how our bodies give, receive and broadcast pleasure. These works will lift spirits, evoke wonder, make us ponder, perhaps laugh and even flinch. They may be saucy, savvy, erotic and provocative – pleasure after all is a subjective joy.
Pleasure does not take itself seriously and offers a cacophony of resistance through multiple voices both introspective and bold. We invite you on a journey through diverse pleasures and frivolity, into an exuberant world view full of slippages, contradictions and minor perversities.
Delight and embrace. Read and enjoy the catalogue – be pleasured!
Main image caption: Gerwyn Davies, Bomb, 2017. Image courtesy of the artist.
Rose Agnew, Robyn Beeche, Holly Block, Queenie Bon Bon, Gavin Brown, Penny Byrne, Frances Cannon, Nicholas Chilvers, Keith W Clancy, Kate Clark, Ray Cook, Peter Ellis, Dita Gambiro, Gerwyn Davies, Kate Durham with Moira Finucane, Rhett D’Costa, William Eicholtz, Leah Emery, Tarryn Gill, Judith Glover, Gun Shy, Mella Jaarsma, Kate Just, Grace Lillian Lee, Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran, David McDiarmid, Louise Meuwissen, Misklectic, Mossy 333 & Misklectic, Ciara Murphy, John Pastoriza-Piñol, Robert Pearce, Mithu Sen, Laksmi Shitaresmi, Cop Shiva, Vipoo Srivilasa, TextaQueen, Christian Thompson, Peter Tully, Wayan Upadana, VERMIN with Jenny Bannister, Xylouris White, William Yang, Paul Yore, Ah Xian, Preston Zly.