For some, February is all about Valentine’s day. It’s a chance to indulge in the conventional kitschy delights of saccharine sweet greeting card sentiments, long-stemmed red roses and heart-shaped boxes of chocolates. But for Sydney-siders, February also offers a saucy alternative: the celebration of indulgence, love and lust, inclusivity and diversity that is the annual Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras festival.
The Mardi Gras festival kicks off on 19 February and NAS Queer Contemporary, at the National Art School, is once again contributing visual spice to the program. This year, SKIN DEEP features the tattooed bodies and intimate stories of LGBTQI+ people in a series of performances and two exhibitions.
In SKIN DEEP the exhibition, Sydney-based fashion photographer WADED presents photographic portraits of LGBTQI+ bodies. Her subjects come in all shapes and sizes, but they share a passion for tattoos and a willingness to flash their flesh. Visitors are invited to participate in the exhibition by sharing their own tattoo tales to an interactive story wall.
The SKIN DEEP performances, which are ticketed, feature LGBTQI+ bodies on the move including Samoan-Australian Fa’afafine Tommy Misa, aerialist The Amazing Ari, Ballroom scene diva Basjia Almaan, and more; all choregraphed by Meryl Tankard.
And those with tickets for the performances will also have the chance to head underground into the NAS prisoner’s tunnel, where Stefania Riccardi presents, Between Good and Evil, a 10 metre-long embroidery which takes its inspiration from the tattoos female inmates of the old Darlinghurst Gaol (where the National Art School now stands) inked on themselves and each other.
Please note: body nudity will be included as part of the exhibition and performances.
NAS Queer Contemporary: SKIN DEEP
National Art School Gallery (Cell Block Theatre)
19 February – 7 March
Performances:19, 20, 21, 26, 27, 28 February. Bookings required.