Richard Harding (Melbourne, Australia) holds a BA in Fine Art and Grad Diploma in Art Education from Curtin University, Perth, Australia and an MA in Fine Art and Diploma in Electronic Design and Interactive media from RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia. He is currently undertaking a PhD by Project with RMIT University School of Art titled Juxtapose: an exploration of gay masculinity and its relationship to the closet. His has presented numerous solo exhibitions in Australia and has participated in group exhibitions internationally. Harding’s research interests focus on the use of architectural metaphors to discuss sexual orientation, masculinity and codes of representation. Within a print-based art practice he is exploring printmaking’s intrinsic qualities of sameness and difference with the merging of traditional and contemporary print mediums.
The purpose of my current research is to explore gender and sexual orientation through the found image in an attempt to locate a gay masculine identity that is free from an accompanying closet.
Being both gay and masculine creates a paradox within hetero-normative constructions of gender. The hetero-normative view creates a hierarchy of masculinity where straight, masculine men are regarded as ‘alpha’ males, whilst all other forms of masculine performance are deemed ‘lesser’, ‘deviant’ or ‘feminized’. As a result, the more a gay male performs alpha masculinity the more he is rendered invisible as other, thus building a closet around himself.
Through this is not a drill I ask whether it is possible for gay men to present as masculine whist also maintaining a homosexual orientation. In other words, I ask what is queer masculinity? The works re-present and re-contextualize found images from The Age newspaper’s Good Weekend as a litmus test for the mainstream media’s projection of male types. I use repetition and variation between images as a metaphor to explore the ideas of sameness and difference in gender-play.
The three works presented for this is not a drill transform the questions of representation asked by René Magritte’s this is not a pipe into a Queer inquiry. I explore representations of male-ness in the magazine through costume, gesture and posture. My aim is to examine the paradox of gay masculinity, and to ask: How do reproduced images and texts help us rethink modes of presenting, re-presenting and representing ourselves?
In the event of an emergency we may hear a warning to evacuate that begins with… this is not a drill… The broadcast draws lines between notions of rehearsal and reality, practice and authenticity.