Site (re) Constructed, Callum McGrath(Download PDF)
In recent historical memory, a pink triangle was used to identify homosexual men in Nazi concentration camps. Originally indented as a symbol of hate in the atrocities of the past, this pink triangle has been inverted and reclaimed as an international symbol of gay pride. Does pink contain an inherent queer essence? Some High School philosophers seem to think so. When I wore pink to freedress-day in grade nine, it was bought to my attention that my Hot-Tuna t-shirt, and by extension, nascent sexuality was “heaps gay”. Art Historian Karl Schawelka his essay Showing Pink (2006) disagrees in so far that “color has no linguistic correlative”. Schawelka argues the unique characteristics of pink can only be understood in specific cultural contexts, and isn’t universally tied to a particular meaning. McGrath is trying to play in this slippery area of signification Schawelka outlines where pink can be queer and fantastical while also oneiric and oddly melancholic.
Within the web of pink scaffolding in this installation, a video projection shows a view of the great outdoors. In this video we see the Aussie landscape with rose tinted Versace glasses. The muggy greens and wattle accents we expect to see have been nullified with a soft pink filter that covers the visual plane. However, this work isn’t deploying a hot catchphrase about viewing the landscape with a Queer lens. This work shows us that dislocation of personal identity and melancholy come in other shades than blue.
Experiencing the open landscape instances where loneliness can be both provoked and relieved. Drugs, The X-Men film franchise, loud parties — all of these chase away loneliness by making us forget our names and that we live alone in boxes of bones no other person can truly know. The Australian landscape is a place where loneliness can be stared down, transfigured, and treated.
The conceptual underpinnings of Mcgrath’s work aren’t pining for the representation of universal queer identity in our view of the landscape. Rather, he quietly asks where does his sexuality and Queer cultural imagery overlap? In conversation with the artist, he describes the bush as an “in-between space”. McGrath is suggesting that despite being allocated imagery in the public arena, we will always find ourselves lost in the space between sexualities, social categories, and genders.