Three Faces of Candee – You and Me against the World (2017)
3-channel video, silent (4:17, 3:25 and 2:35 minutes, looped)
wall colour: ‘Sweet Candy’ by British Paints

Three Faces of Candee – You and Me against the World (2017) conceptually and figuratively erodes light to highlight the interlinked complexities of memory, representation and effacement.

Production still from Three Faces of Candee – You and Me against the World (2017)

My approach to this work involved recollecting memories from my queer past and matching them with documentary evidence. In doing so, my aim was to locate myself both temporally and spatially within my queer community. I wanted to remember that I was there and that we are still here!

Ironically this process of reminiscing highlighted just how much I have erased from my hippocampus — intentionally and unintentionally.

At the individual level, deliberate effacement of memories can be liberating and transformative. Forgetting allows people to change, morph and reframe their individual narrative. Conversely, in collections where inclusivity is expected (think state funded), selective collection and cataloguing practices entrench structural and institutional forgetting. Denying a community visibility erodes their presence from the social narrative. You are literally wiped away — rendered invisible — effaced.

Production still from Three Faces of Candee – You and Me against the World (2017)

Within a queer context this is often because our social contribution is not taken seriously. For too long we have been type cast as the hedonistic bit of glitter at the edges of society. This is something I want to challenge, forget and reframe.

I remember a performance in the early 1990s by Miss Candee to Helen Reddy’s song You and Me against the World (1974). It was mashed together with the line ‘the dingo’s got my baby’ from the Fred Schepisi film Evil Angels (1988). It was ugly, sick, dark, brutal and I loved it. No sequins or glitter — just an ill fitting black wig, a frumpy summer smock and a dark cynical world view. As source material for this work it is perfect.

On the surface, this work simply looks to be about glitter and glamour – a colourful light-play celebrating an often stereotyped community. Wrong! The glitter effect is made by projecting footage of Miss Candee's performance onto sandpaper. It is a violent and abrasive process where focussed light is ripped apart and transformed into something etherial and beautiful. Each grain of sand takes the cohesive light from the projector and scatters it into a galaxy of colourful moving stars.

Production still from Three Faces of Candee – You and Me against the World (2017)

The transformative nature of this destructive act is central to this work. This is not by coincidence. In the face of adversity, destruction and homophobic times, the queer community has had to make artistic objects that challenge social and political heteronormity. I don't want to romanticise adversity, but it is often in spite of this structural stonewalling and effacement that we get shit done. That's why we are here!

WE ARE HERE is an exhibition curated by Angela Bailey for Midsumma 2018 and features Susan Maco Forrester, Peter Waples-Crowe, Briony Galligan, Peter Lambropoulos, Archie Barry. WE ARE HERE is presented by Midsumma Festival and State Library Victoria in association with ALGA and is supported by the City of Melbourne Arts Grants.