Back to Back, Back to Black is a queer, intersectional response to the tension between artists, Anish Kapoor and Stuart Semple surrounding the rights to the use of Vantablack; the darkest material on earth or “the blackest black”. Anish Kapoor is the only person who currently has access to this pigment.
Back to Back, Back to Black uses drag and the over performance of gender to critique Semple’s behaviour and highlights that his response is one typical of white male privilege which perpetuates cisgendered and heteronormative standards of ownership and control.
The performance included a drag king routine where I sang ‘Back to Black’ by Amy Winehouse repetitively for 2 hours. The routine also involved handing out roses to members of the audience. Through repetition, absurdity and overkill I seek to reveal the tokenism, extreme competitiveness and lack of empathy that is entrenched within white male culture. In addition, it communicates how drag and humour can be used as powerful tools to agitate the gender binary.
My aim was not for Kapoor to be completely vindicated but to bring attention to Semple’s petty and incessant attempts to prop himself up above Kapoor.
Contemporary Art Tasmania, April 2018.
Images by Alexandra Hullah