Friday, August 16, 2013


Exhibition by Hobart Hughes 
27 August to 7 September 2013

Diana, 2013, ceramic, 340 x 140 x 90mm

'Does sexual desire have its origin in the old lizard brain, focused on reproduction? Perhaps. However, by the time the sexual urge re-forms itself in the curly complex front brain it may have changed the gender it is attracted to, changed it’s own gender, could be wrapped in leather, hung up on hooks, be thrilled to be threatened, terrified about being threatened, desperate to be dominated, wired to be excited by a squeaky costume or take any number of other forms. I can’t say I know why. Perhaps because we have a large plastic brain able to form itself into the shape it needs to be. If indeed the largest sexual organ is the brain it’s no wonder we are obsessed with sex. Maybe this brain just gets bored easily. 

'Sexual desire is a heat haze in the distance; the more we chase it the more it recedes. This is the disappearing horizon of desire. So in the end, most of us settle on some image, some sense, some mysterious relationship with desire that provides some satisfaction with that distance. Every now and then we try to thrill ourselves to close that gap, but distance usually returns. It’s a relationship with our imagination that consistently compels us to engage in a search for a consistent ardor. 

'We dance with our history and our body chemistry. We may dally or just be hardwired from birth but to a greater or lesser extent we will do anything it takes to ignite the flame on whatever fuel we happen to run on. But is sex just the psyche taking the ego out to dinner trying to get laid? I don’t think so. I think we seek something deep, a connection that combines who we just happen to be with who we might be able to be. That could be just about anything. 

'In this series of sculptures I have looked, in a rough order, from the ancient to the present and at some other possible future forms that desire might take. 

'The first sexual memes were indeed the Venus figurines, best known of which is the Venus of Willendorf. The rough design spread all over the ancient central European world from Siberia to the Pyrenees. There are examples in Japan as well. Ancient historians disagree on why or what they mean but my point is simple: they are sexy and they travelled. 

'In 2008 I made a stop motion film of the entire contents of the Athens Museum. I was struck by sexual classicism. Did the Greeks indeed have the first sex industry? What better way to sell your culture than to come up with a powerful sexual meme. The one the Greeks invented was ‘the draped reveal’. The fabric hiding and simultaneously accentuating the body both enthralled and assured the viewer. You can see this woman but maybe you’re not supposed to, much like the wet T-shirt. Greek culture went everywhere, just as porn does on the internet. This is just a personal theory: the general formula for packaging desire but keeping it on the high culture dais was a winning combination. That delicious sexual tension of half naked bodies became the very image of good neo classic governance for the Victorians. 

'There is a moment in Cat’s Cradle (Kurt Vonnegut) where the world’s water is on the brink of being turned into a solid called “Ice 9”. It’s the end of the future. The two lead characters look at each other at last wanting to consummate the romantic tension of the story. Yet all the ardor vanishes and the narrator resigns to the idea that his desire was far more connected to reproducing the future generation than he had ever suspected. If the two leads had been gay what would have happened? Do we want to fuck if there’s no future in it? 

'I’m not sure, maybe you’d just want to have one last truly connected moment. I really don’t think everyone needs the idea of producing the next generation to get off. But… We all have parents, even if we never meet them and we ponder their success or failure at both forming us and being parents. Our model for closeness is either formed or rejected. It doesn’t matter if it’s two men, two women, a woman and a chimp or a woman and a man provided they love and nurture us. If they shame us, damage us or cripple our confidence we will perhaps transfer this to whoever we encounter and that may mean something sexually dangerous and ugly. If we want to close the gap to this horizon of desire we need to connect somehow. 

'At present we find ourselves in an age of continual desire updates. Our technology, our food and our sexual self-image is likewise, updatable. On top of all this market-placed commodification of need is a tantalizing prospect of genetic manipulation of our core. This is what I refer to with ‘Mechanical Reproduction’ (my apologies to Walter Benjamin). Even though we can sit, very assured in our comfortable present sexual relationships with our partners and our mutual imaginations, this possibility of tinkering with our DNA does change the rules somewhat. I have no idea really how much this will change how we feel about ourselves, quite literally, but it does make me wonder. It’s the first time in our evolution that one of the absolute bases of sex has changed. As a thought experiment I made “So What If I Cloned My Dead Wife”. I try to predict what type of desire might form. The sculpture depicts two identical women caressing each other’s sex. The title does imply another unseen figure however. We have to imagine a wealthy individual whose young wife might have died, now in old age gazing upon the cloned pair, pole dancing. They may indeed be some kind of genetically manufactured slaves. I tried to make them like someone you might meet, not too beautiful, so that they capture an individual more than an ideal. They are slightly different, just as twins can be altered by small differences in experiences. In this scenario it’s as if we are not cloning people but cloning sexual gratification and desire itself. 

'As a society we have come some way to accepting diversity as being an expression of both being and culture. This exhibition is merely a collection of the forms sexual desire can take, along with a few threads that seemed to spin off from that general pattern. My apologies with the license I take with Freud, Parvati, Greek Mythology and anybody that may be offended by my trivialization of their obsession.'
- Hobart Hughes, 2013

The Athens Museum time-lapse can be found at and click on the link Road Movie


4 - 24 AUGUST 2013

The Damien Minton Gallery has invited a group of artists to respond to the recently completed major work by Sydney artist, Martin Sharp: 
‘Graceland: A Reprise of Giorgio de Chirico’s Song of Love’. 
Graceland appropriates the surrealist classic and features the Apollo bust as Elvis. 

'Graceland' at the Damien Minton Gallery

Martin Sharp is fascinated with Elvis Presley as the King of America and refers to a sermon delivered by Dr Robert Wolfgramm at the Frankston Seventh Day Adventist church titled: 
“The King’s King of Kings”. 

In the sermon, which documents Presley’s career, Wolfgramm references Elvis’ favourite Scripture, 1 Corinthians 13. Some of these verses were transcribed on a plaque beside Elvis’ ‘Graceland’ bed. 

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 

As Wolfgramm concludes: 

“This is what the religion of the King’s ‘King of Kings’ is all about – love. Elvis showed it to everyone who came in contact with him. He was generous and colour blind, He was no saint, but he knew who was: Jesus Christ. Thank you Elvis for being a living testimony to this our only hope. Amen” 

The painting by Martin Sharp will be on public display for the first time and we invited artists to contribute a new work or an existing piece that may evoke any of the varied concepts around Graceland, Elvis and kings.