After a pretty tough year – with things going south around the world not too long after the 2020 Mardi Gras – this theme is a reflection of the strength of the queer community and the power we have to spread joy and positivity, and rise together.
But also, outside of the context of a global pandemic, it's important to show compassion and understand the pain experienced both within and outside of the LGBTQIA+ community.
When we rise to the occasion, amazing things can happen!
It's safe to say Mardi Gras' entire programme aims to be a representation of this theme.
Kamilaroi artist Dennis Golding is just one of the people involved with the festival who is helping to champion 'RISE' and all it encompasses. His contribution to this year's Mardi Gras is the curation of an exhibition at Boomalli Aboriginal Art Gallery called HEART.
Dennis is more than willing to show himself through what he does.
“I’m very proud as an artist to express my sexuality and my cultural identity in my work,” he says.
“I think it’s important to express yourself through art practice as it’s a strong way of healing, it’s a strong way of communicating to other people, to really have people understand where you come from, your lived experience and histories.”
“To me, Mardi Gras means strength and resilience,” Dennis continues. “It’s something everyone can be a part of. It’s a place where we can talk about diversity, culture and identity in many different ways.”
“And it’s an opportunity for people outside of our communities to be part of and have these conversations with.”
“This year’s Mardi Gras theme is 'RISE'. I rise for the future of my First Nations people and for First Nations artists. It’s important to rise, because you’re leaving something behind and moving into a new future.”
The exhibition Dennis has curated for Mardi Gras is an extension of his passion for expression when it comes to identity. It allows the artists involved to reach into their hearts and express the things most important to them.
“HEART invites artists to expand their creative practice in developing new ideas and reflections relating to the heart,” Dennis describes.
“These current times are challenging with the experiences of living in a worldwide pandemic, rising movements including Black Lives Matter, and the ravages of climate change. Whilst this exhibition is not a direct response to these themes and movements, it allows artists from both LGBTQIA+ and First Nations communities to reflect, heal, celebrate and empower their histories and lived experiences.”
“HEART encourages the artists to find within their practice and within themselves what matters most to them, and to explore how identity and culture is expressed from the heart. This is a celebration of life, a reflection of history and an opportunity to enhance the voices of First Nations and LGBTQIA+ peoples.”
What do you do in your day-to-day life?I work in retail at Lovisa, I’ve ranged from a casual all the way up to assistant manager, but now I’m settled part-time. Besides that, I’m always planning performances for the future, and also supporting my fellow performers. And eating. Ooft!Read more: