Started in 2014, the Company of Men (CoM) exhibition is a curated (mutli – art form) event where ‘men explore masculinity’. An edgy, challenging, political and relevant exhibition , CoM encourages artists to explore and present a perspective on masculinity and male sexuality through the lens of being a gay, bisexual or transgender man.
The exhibition presents both local and international emerging and established queer artists. Through the exploration of queer masculinity and male sexuality CoM endeavours to create discussions around gay sex and culture, HIV and other STI prevention, masculine identity and body image as well as challenging traditional views on sexuality and censorship. The exhibition creates a public forum where artist can explore these concepts without recrimination or censorship.
CoM strives to challenge the audience, to make them think about how they view art, to hopefully get a response, either intellectual, emotional and/ or physical. The exhibition has a strong focus on Australian artist but also strives to include international artists, so that CoM becomes synonymous with the most boundary pushing and provocative photographic, video, visual, installation and performance artists on a global scale.
The goal for the exhibition is to discover and expose some of these more ‘underground’ artists and to foster relationships between emerging and established artists. The exhibition strives to create a community where artists can learn and be inspired by one another. CoM also hopes to build community between diverse interest groups in the gay community, such as leather, fetish, bear and body aware communities.
As with most art, artists express themselves through their work and CoM gives them the forum to explore concepts about their own sexuality or the sexuality of their subjects, to give them a voice. The art that they exhibit might be an outlet to help them through certain life experiences as therapy, or conversely, a study of the male body and anything in-between The artists in the exhibition explore their own male sexuality and the issue that may arise from this, body image issues, dealing with ‘coming out’, feeling isolated, feeling as the ‘other’ in society. CoM is also a celebration of the queer community that the artists are a part of and exposing the beauty of relationships that are created through adversity.
The exhibition strives to be relevant political and edgy, but also to be ballsy in attitude, to have humour and to express the vulnerability of the artists.
The Company of Men Exhibition is hoping to take place again during the 2020 Midsumma Festival in January.