Venus Virgin Tomarz by Robert Earp

Described as a an intergalactic adventure in photo making, the conceptual photography of Robert Earp focuses on the ‘surreal realness’ of transgendering with his current exhibition. Named after Earp’s ‘divalicious’ artist/collaborator/muse – and featuring the sometimes-salacious and ever-sassy wordplay of Ian Buckland – the true story of Venus Virgin Tomarz is told in hyper-colourful composite photographs that recall the sci-fi kitsch of yesteryear. Think Barbarella-meets-Flash Gordon-meets-Dune. Entire galaxy and epic encounters have been created in minute detail, using everyday household items as their building blocks.  

© Robert Earp
Two Faces. © Robert Earp

“The idea of taking 1960s sci-fi as the metaphor of Venus’ story of transgender, I just thought that was brilliant,” says Earp. “What I brought to the table was, if we’re going to make it a true nod to ‘60s sci-fi, we’re going to have to build it all ourselves. We’re going to have to make stars, make planets, make aliens, and make it come to life.”

In Venus Virgin Tomarz’s universe, the stars are bicarbonate soda, mixed spices or a sprinkling of chalk dust; the moon is a swirling pour of beer; a Kitchen aid blender whips up tornadoes; and the flesh of alien robots comes from the fish in Earp’s tank. 

Playtime with Pluto. © Robert Earp.
Playtime with Pluto. © Robert Earp.

Nothing is as it appears but, once you metaphorically scratch the surface, these very analogue methods come together to pose profound futuristic questions that affect us all (whether goddesses or otherwise). Where are we going and how are we getting there? Will we be able to accept each other in whatever guise we appear?

Ride the Rocket. © Robert Earp
Ride the Rocket. © Robert Earp
Mars Triumph. © Robert Earp.
Mars Triumph. © Robert Earp.
Clash of Two Worlds. © Robert Earp.
Clash of Two Worlds. © Robert Earp.

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February

Mike Reed’s exhibition, '3000 Streets', traces his near and far wanderings in the world’s arteries with odd servings along the way – some meatier bites than others, but always with a leaning towards the unusual and quirky.

Nine artists used their time wisely during COVID to reflect and find inspiration in their work. 'Grounded' is the result of their time spent in this pursuit.

The exhibition celebrates one of Australia’s pre-eminent social documentary and feminist photographers, Ruth Maddison, and her significant contribution to the documentation of Australian life and society from the 1970s to the present

The inaugural PHOTO 2021 International Festival of Photography will reanimate the streets and galleries of Melbourne and regional Victoria, and feature the works of over 160 artists.