Deborah Kelly in collaboration with Tina Fiveash
The Big Butch Billboard
The Artswipe has been away - as you all know because you all keep hassling me to come back to the five and dime - because she has been living large as a billboard. It's that time of year when we all get sucked into a gay vortex (yep Mardi Gras time). And The Artswipe gets sucked more than anyone. In fact I just came back from getting a full body wax in anticipation of 'Monday Milktails', an Oscars bash to celebrate the Gus Van Sant movie Milk, where Sean Penn is gay for pay. The best kind of gay actually because at least when you're paying someone to be something, you can complain when it doesn't live up to your expectations. Complaining is what I do best. If there is a comments box, you can be sure I will fill it.
Enough about that, what's new in queer cultcha? That queer provocateur of the visual arts Deborah Kelly has, in collaboration with photographer Tina Fiveash, produced a billboard that pays homage to the Maria Kozic is BITCH billboard from 1989. Kelly replaces Kozic's fetishised powerdrill wielding Ken Doll assassin with a butch dyke called Mahalia Jones. It's as simple as that - take a hetero feminist icon of the late 80s and replace her with a stylised blow-dried butch dyke wannabe straight out of The L Word. Kelly's billboard does for queer butch culture what metrosexuality did for straight men - stylising the signifiers of gender/sexual identity into shallow advertising speak. Or maybe that is the point?
The Big Butch billboard is currently showing at Australian Centre for Photography and in regional locations. On March 7, the butch ones among us cart the billboard down Oxford Street for the Mardi Gras parade. I can hardly contain my excitement.