(Re) Presenting 2021 | The Man in the Irony Mask | Collaborative Video Art by artist Paul Andrew [1998]

 

 

 

 

 

” A mask tells us more than a face.”

Oscar Wilde

 

 

To some of us he was a fabulous somebody, to most of us Brenton Heath-Kerr was a fabulous nobody who intrigued, dazed and confused a generation of Sydney youth culture with his elaborate latex full body masks, witty performance art and agit-pop humour. This documentary asks, “who was that masked man?”. It is also an evocation of an important and largely undocumented artist, an impressario of illness and a quiet achiever who performed in the bacchanalian world of Sydney’s nightlife, dance parties, social events, art gallery events and HIV/ AIDS educational projects. For this emigre of drag, this gender misfit, keeping up pubic appearances ( despite the progression of ill health) and a good look became a conceptual tour de force and a slippery, shimmery way of life. Heath-Kerr’s works are architectonic and ethereal. They are emblematic of the fluidity of identity, desire and gender. Heath-Kerr’s characters are spectacular and robotic. Each design resonates with elements of fashionable modernism, from the Surrealist escapades of Dior, Schiaparelli, Dali and Jean Cocteau to the post modern anything goes antics of Andy Warhol, Leigh Bowery, Vivienne Westwood or Madonna. The artist’s repertoire has a common subtext which arouses the spontaneity, genderbender chic and nonsensical traits of Dada. These are works which speak loudly and politically in the public face of HIV/AIDS about the need for mercurial and positive representations which foreground social change. Heath-Kerr has suffered the familiar and tragic fate of many artists in the shadow of HIV/AIDS who have died before their time. Heath-Kerr is an important artist who understod that often holding a mask up to society had more political impact than holding up a mirror. Paul Andrew 1995 This video art documentary portrays the life and death of performance artist and AIDS activist, Brenton Heath-Kerr. Through his repertoire of performances, costumes and photographs, Heath-Kerr challenged perceptions, dominant stereotypes and myths which he thought underpinned the gay communities and notions of gay identity. An emigre of drag and a gender misfit, Heath-Kerr understood that often holding a mask up to society had more political impact than holding up a mirror. A Scarlett Pictures Film. Writer/Dir/Co-Producer. Paul Andrew. Prod. Kath Shelper. 28 mins.

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.acmi.net.au/works/109771–the-man-in-the-irony-mask

 

 

https://www.acmi.net.au/works/109771–the-man-in-the-irony-mask

 

 

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