The annual MELT Portrait Prize, a celebration of queer arts and culture, is a lively visual exhibition that showcases the works of global artists at the Brisbane Powerhouse. In MELT, it is a time of celebration for the LGBTI+ community. A time to acknowledge the hardships that this community has endured and the triumphs that has been made. It is yet another step towards equality. It embraces diversity among the community; as seen in the difference of subjects in the powerful artworks of the exhibition. Each artwork contains a person who is associated with the LGBTI+ community; and each work is produced by a different artist with a touch of their unique style, flair and meaning. Such artworks were produced in a variety of medium, more particularly in the field of photography.
Kenn Santos, with his artwork Pretty. Hurts., is a demonstration of the two-sided lifestyle that the LGBTI+ community has dealt with. Featuring Brisbane based artist as the subject, Miss Poodle; Santos uses her as a symbolic figure filled with the prejudices and hardships that is inflicted upon the community. One can interpret this meaning through Miss Poodle’s face. Her left side; a perfectly made up face in front of a celebratory facade of rainbow flags and marches. While her right side, a messy and distraught figure that looms behind a disguise, can contradict her ambitions to fulfil steps towards equality.
#FOODP*RN is a comical yet creative body of work made by portrait photographer Joel Devereux. Located in the Visy Foyer, downstairs from the front doors of the Powerhouse, it displays a large series of photographs involving the same pattern. This being colourful backgrounds and naked men posing with different types of food. It is a clever interpretation of the popular #foodporn trend. It serves the purpose of satisfying and encouraging cravings that are made by the viewer itself. While it is considered to be playful and imaginative, it can also be interpreted as a critique on our modern societal obsessions and trends; one being food. Devereux celebrates these through men and aims to leave viewers gawping stupidly. Through these artistic means, it is safe to say that Joel Devereux promotes sexuality in a fun and saucy way.
The MELT Portrait Prize is mainly split in two categories: the celebration, and the acknowledgement of difficulties. As one walks through the doors of the Brisbane Powerhouse on the opening night of MELT, they are instantly captured by the lively performances made by global artists. The decorative interior design in the Powerhouse, transformed into a celebratory party filled with all colours of the rainbow. MELT, an inclusive festivity that celebrates the diversity of the LGBTI+ community; is an inspiring vehicle towards social justice and queer arts and culture.
Written by Jazmin Duque
Written for the MELT Portrait Prize 2017 shown at Brisbane Powerhouse from the 25th January – 5th February.
Image: The People’s Choice Award – Artist Kenn Santos: Pretty Hurts. Photographic Print.