Difference, Desire & Destiny - An Exhibition

An adults-only exhibition that explores sexual identity and diversity.
This month we embark upon on exhibition, Difference, Desire and Destiny, that includes various and carefully selected works that explore issues of human identity & sexuality - primarily male homosexuality. Works range from the blatant portrayal of the erotic human form, and extend all the way to questions of the obscurity or indeed, veracity of how humans not only see their own identity, but their sexuality. For some, sexuality is an immutable and incontestable state of being - nothing to do with choice. For others, and less commonly, sexuality is a mercurial and contestable construct, not at all central to one’s sense of self.

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Difference is all about identity; sexual identity.
This is acutely the case for many gay people. They are defined by their difference and in stark contrast to the heteronormative paradigm that pervades society. Some welcome that difference and many others seek to ‘normalise’ themselves into a more mainstream existence or just end up going that way. Neither is wrong. On one hand, there is the confirmation of human rights and the ability to share the laws, rights and opportunities that apply to heterosexual unions. Then, regarding the latter, there are also those who wish to reside at the edges of mainstream culture and recognise other modes of relationship, conjugation and engagement in the sexual side of life. This is always personal, but may be embraced as an almost anarchistic sensibility - why try to fit a 'square peg into a round hole', after all? Why be concerned with square pegs and round holes at all?

Desire - what we humans crave sexually, visually, emotionally.
People, bits of people, circumstances.
This is as individual as there are individuals, but there are commonalities as well as divergences in what constitutes desire - how lust is satiated and the enigma of where real affection may lie within this - whether it does at all.

Desire is what propels us, as sentient beings and as sexual beings. It gives life purpose. In the gay world, it is often the modus operandi - not always, but OFTEN. It may be seen as hedonistic, but is often a mask for just being and engaging or connecting with another human being. The context may be very different (largely) to a heterosexual experience of dealing with desire and its accompanying rituals - dinner, conversation, flirting, slow walks, seduction etc - to put it in maybe a cliched, but altogether not inaccurate way. Gay people do this too, but there are many opportunities and occasions where it is much more visceral and so much more about ‘carpe diem’ and ‘go-for-it’ when there is opportunity. Desire is also about so much more - possessions, status and cash etc. Despite the latter being so, we are focusing more on the sexual and ‘what-comes-naturally’ in this exhibition, though.

Destiny. Both self defined and imposed by the Gods.
Looking for love & partners; the futility, (sometimes), and intense longing when you are different - finding a lover, and more importantly, finding yourself.

Destiny is perhaps also a function of time and geography. Depending where you are or in what time you have lived, your destiny is shaped by your context, your culture … Sometimes that very thing breeds persecution and human rights abuses. Conversely, it sometimes shapes a cultural ‘tolerance’ (a less than optimal word) that every human being can expect just for being human.

Throughout history, humanity has dealt with religious and state persecution (eg. the Nazis), and continues to deal with newer threats in the world in regard to people who are not heterosexual or do not fit the heteronormative ‘picture’ of humanity whether they are straight, gay or otherwise. These threats are obvious and some are very slippery and almost invisible as a real threat in the delivery of their message. Respectively, they include a number of African regimes, the Westborough Baptist Church, Putin and the anonymous purveyors of sexual alienation and discrimination in Russia, and Tea Party sympathisers in Australia and the US.

This exhibition manifests components - and thinking - of all of the above. It does not endeavour to be all-encapsulating, despite the profound nature of what it means to be identified as 'different' sexually. There is also an emphasis here on male sexuality and homosexuality. This is not necessarily by choice, but is part and parcel of what our artists have offered us - artists who are homosexual and artists who are heterosexual. They all see the confusions as well as universal themes - and some very specific ones - when it comes to exploring sexual identity, the nature of desire and how that colours one’s destiny.

There is a hegemony associated with these issues and they are being played out now in our society. There are ‘warm and fuzzy’ notions of equality (and rightfully so, in a human rights context). There is also the suggestion of what is lost by ‘normalising’ difference and diminishing diversity to form some sort of homogeneity. There is the confrontation with what may be seen as ‘acceptable’ sexual practice - the conduct of sex - no matter how it occurs - with marriage, between partners or more anonymously in the search for an answer to desire or something more.

Is it anyone’s business? Really?

Concurrently, we happily celebrate 25 years of Tropical Fruits in Lismore - their championing of the GLBTI community, and support of acceptance, or at least tolerance, of those beyond heteronorms. Lismore Regional Gallery is currently hosting an exhibition of 25 Years of Inclusion, a collaboration between the Gallery and Tropical Fruits Inc. Their exhibition continues until 26 January, 2014.

Please note; Difference, Desire & Destiny is a restricted exhibition due to the inclusion of a few works of a homoerotic and somewhat explicit nature that are unsuitable for children - and may be offensive to some adults.

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