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If you've got the plebiscite blues, these artists have the cure

By Ayebatonye Abrakasa

Welcome to the 44th guest blog post of Time Out Sydney's 52 Weeks of #SydCulture 2017 challenge! November’s culture selector is Ayebatonye Abrakasa: DJ, event producer, curator, director – and founder of House of Ayebatonye. Every week in November, Ayebatonye will be telling us what she loved the week before. Think of it as your recommendations for this week, from someone who sees a helluva lot of arts and culture. Over to her.

Last Thursday night I attended the incredible opening night of To the Inclusion of All Others at Verge Gallery, featuring a group of young artists from a diverse range of backgrounds, who have mobilised to address their disenfranchisement during this trying time, and reach out to the queer community to come together in solidarity.

To the Inclusion of All Others sprouted from the postal survey on marriage equality, a difficult time for many within the LGBTQIA++ community, and explores the potency of sexuality, gender, local history and social commentary.

The exhibition statement reads: Remixing and reconsidering these norms, artists will reference ceremonies, trinkets, sentimental items and other subtleties as a way to meditate on the ways we sustain each other in the wake of danger and delegitimisation.

Coordinated by Nina Dodd and Jonno Revanche, the exhibition contains politically charged art created during a time in which I am sure a lot of us are critically self-reflecting on our lives and decisions in the midst of a divided nation where some people are telling us that we don’t deserve equality.

To the inclusion of all others exhibition (L-R) Shareeka Helaluddin, Untitled, 2017, Amira Hajar, Queer Comfort Songs, 2017, Del Lumanta, Power Fantasy, 2017, Harry Pickering and Leila el Rayes, Locust and Wild Honey, 2017

I spoke a little to two artists whose work caught my eye, Harry Pickering and Leila El Rayes; they debuted a collaborative work, ‘Locust & Wild Honey’ – a beautiful series of images of friends tinged in a deep red hue, with lines like “molten movement you fit into the palm of my hand” woven in.

‘Locust & Wild Honey’ is a series that arose out of Harry and Leila’s experiences in queer club spaces. Through their adaptation of this space they worked to subvert the notion that red is synonymous with aggression/anger/violence, instead promoting the idea that its power can be used to build intimacy and closeness.

Harry describes the process as “using our queer magic to manifest more situations of intimacy and bleeding into spaces like the gallery, which can often by the opposite of intimate: sterile and institutional.”

I loved attending this exhibition, with all the fab people sitting out the front, exchanging knowledge and stories, discussing identity and gender politics. Dodd and Revanche are also facilitating an Open Mic Night (November 15) and Community Care Picnic (November 25) to foster community spirit and togetherness through creative expression.

I believe that in a time like this it’s SO important that we treat each other with kindness, and not treat our allies like our enemies. We need to work harder to build and maintain relationships, never forgetting that in this issue of marriage equality, we are all on the same side and we all deserve to be treated as equals; we work better united, not apart.

Although I’ve enjoyed my weeks of hermiting and working on myself, it was nice to feel as though I were in good company – despite the fact I didn’t know many of the people in attendance. If you’ve ever felt disenfranchised, disempowered or misunderstood, especially within the current socio-political climate, I highly recommend wandering down to Verge Gallery and having a look.

The full line-up of artists is: Amira Hajar, Christine Dean, Del Lumanta, Harry Pickering, Jeremy Anderson, Joe Brennan, Jonno Revanche, Katherine Corcoran, Leila el Rayes, Leena Riethmuller, Peter Waples Crowe, Shareeka Helaluddin, Tarik Ahlip, and Tyza Stewart.

To The Inclusion of All Others runs until Dec 2 at Verge Gallery.

You can see Ayebatonye DJ Fri Nov 10 at the Sniff Off 2017 fundraiser party, alongside stereogamous, Marcus Whale, Jikuroux and more.

While you’re here, check our 52 Weeks of #SydCulture challenge, and let us know what you're seeing/loving on Instagram via the hashtag #SydCulture.   

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