Cover image of the review
Jimmy Nuttall, Fabulina, 2019, single-channel video, 19 minutes 55 seconds.


9 Jul 2022
Verge Gallery 22 Jun - 22 Jul 2022

Screwball hesitates to show all its cards at once. Walking into Verge Gallery you’ll think it a small show, comprising of two works on paper and a few screens of video. The gallery’s façade, usually transparent glass, is plastered in what look like old 1980s porn magazine covers (in fact, they are covers for the exhibition catalogue designed by Ella Sutherland), that obscure and protect the exhibition within. A timber bench—the kind you’d see in a locker room—is positioned opposite the show’s main screen, to entice you to sit down and get to know the show. Screwball may take its time but will, in turn, reward you with the pleasures of edging.

Screwball, 2022, gallery front and installation view, dimensions variable. Photography by Jek Maurer.

Screwball, curated by Sydney-based video artist EO Gill, strategically and powerfully responds to the current hyper-visibility of gender and sexuality discourse in Australian art institutions. Know My Name and Queer are the two most obvious examples, but there’s others like the research group Kink or Rex Butler’s recent enthusiasm for “queering” the likes of Sidney Nolan. You could say that such hyper-visibility emerges out of the desire for relevance and futurity. Indeed, the futurity of Australian art institutions seems to be contingent on structural change—diversifying, decolonising, queering. Identities are moulded into verbs as institutions heed the demands of contemporaneity, differentiating themselves from the normative paradigms of yesteryear. It’s in this context that Screwball emerges, hedging its bets on the politics of evasion, disappearing and “not cumming”.

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