Widgets and Doohickies from a Camp Toolbox

This exhibition, curated by Dr Ray Cook and Dr Alison Bennett, considers camp to be an unstable suite of strategies available to the non-mainstream. Working models of camp become tools for artists, individuals and communities alike to negotiate assertive pathways through marginalisation.

Definitions of camp are many and varied. Susan Sontag claimed that it is a passive, apolitical worldview providing homosexuals with solace in isolation. Moe Meyers’ declared camp stood in opposition to compulsory heteronormativity, and also to the capitulation by gay and lesbian assimilationists. For Meyer, camp is queer praxis and heterosexual appropriations are theft.

Historically, the contents of the camp toolbox have been used to construct affirmation, connection, languages of dissent, the articulation of subcultural particularity—these are tools with which to acquire social and cultural space. Traditionally, the toolbox has included fatalism, euphemism, theatricality, irony, exaggeration and the strategic pretence of incomprehension. All ideal instruments to invert mainstream hierarchies of value and taste.

The contours, dimensions and textures of sexual and gendered subcultures have been transformed by new social attitudes with levels of legitimacy that would be unthinkable only a few years ago. Though as LGBTIQA+ identities and cultures mainstream, new inequalities emerge, new generational and factional discontinuities and dissonance arise. This exhibition asks what insights might be gained from a look in the toolbox of a number of artists who approach their task from a variety of vantages.

Artists include: Sophie Caligari, Sean Coyle, Gerwyn Davies and Xanthe Dobbie.

This exhibition is a part of the 2019 Midsumma Festival.

1 Feb - 2 Mar


RMIT Building 94.2, 23-27 Cardigan Street Carlton