Life beyond gender, a study in performance, togetherness and openness, resistance, moving in between the binary, beauty in all its forms, kids in the suburbs longing to be free, an experience of wholeness, starting with yourself and ending up with the universe.
Throughout most of art history, portraiture has been rigidly delineated between male and female subjects. In the 20th century, feminist artists challenged that history with their own images of womanhood on their own terms. But filmmaker Cloudy Rhodes is reaching for something different, something more amorphous and genderless, like Sarah Lucas, another artist who defined gender and identity for themselves by going beyond simple male and female lines.
With a group of queer friends, Cloudy took over a male bathroom in Sydney earlier this year and asked them to perform what masculinity means to them. In their collaborative collection of living, close-up, slow-motion portraits, they transform the bathroom into a site in which gender is obliterated, in a respectful counter-response to the biological essentialism of Agnes Varda’s 1975 short film, ‘Réponse de Femmes: Notre Corps, Notre Sexe.’
This is contemporary portraiture, in video, as a departure of what has gone before. In the background, a woman articulates the writings of Sigmund Freud – a man whose thinking informed, still does inform, so much thinking on gender, psychology and identity – in all its contradictions and perversions. The future is wide open.
About Cloudy Rhodes
Cloudy Rhodes makes intuitive films, charged with the energy of the ocean and the intensity of young, queer romance. Cloudy's short film Deluge played Sydney Film Festival this year.