Submitted Review

‘Friendship as a Way of Life’

  • UNSW Galleries • New South Wales

  • 07 May—20 November 2020

  • Ricardo Felipe • Published 03 August 2020

‘So, here’s a story from A to Z’ …goes a line from the Spice Girls’s Wannabe, a song that values female friendship over heterosexual coupling. The group exhibition ‘Friendship as a Way of Life’ at UNSW Galleries goes further and values the gamut of queer bonding as well as sexual relations.

‘So, here’s a story from A to Z’

Front and centre is the installation ‘Eulogy for the Dyke Bar’ by Macon Reed with its staged setting of an actual pool table, juke box, dart board and bar encased in clay and painted in liquorice allsorts colours. On the faux woodgrain walls are framed copies of advertisements, articles and photos from past lesbian bars in San Francisco, New York & Sydney. As a community space – currently dormant due to Covid restrictions – the installation entwines aesthetic form and social engagement.

Artworks by over 20 artists and groups explore the show’s three themes of expressing sexual identity, ways of being with chosen families and intergenerational kinship. With some works featuring ideas of care and touch, it’s a tender show with a feeling of (be)longing.

There is a virtual tour of both levels of the exhibition – see – and this gives an excellent visual impression. But it doesn’t quite match seeing the show IRL with the up-close details (like the homemade crossword puzzle from an all-female share house), sounds (of a dripping tap or the pitch for the sexual high of a blind man), music (from queer clubbing) and moving images (of the four video works).

Let’s hope that Reed’s dyke bar will be activated as planned later in the year so we can mingle and toast the curators José Da Silva and Kelly Doley and all the artists for an engaging show and companion public program. ‘Make it last forever, friendship never ends.’

Ricardo Felipe

Curators: José Da Silva and Kelly Doley