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.
“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.
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?