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Some Like it Hot

Some Like it Hot, curated by Wendy Garden, brings together two of the Northern Territory’s most respected artists: Franck Gohier and Therese Ritchie in an exhibition that reflects upon gender trouble in the tropics. Both Gohier and Ritchie consider the performative nature of gender, tracing the intersections between sweat, sex, desire and discord in Australia’s hottest and most remote capital city.

Throughout history, climate has been held accountable for a range of behaviours and intense heat associated with inertia, sloth, promiscuity and violence. Art historian Andrew McNamara notes that the tropics have been seen as a space ‘beyond humanity and civilisation’, a place that for many carried a threat of anarchy and chaos.

Alluding to gender stereotypes popularised in mid-twentieth century comic books, romance narratives and action films, Franck Gohier creates paintings and prints that deploy a pop art aesthetic to question sexualised binaries. Drawing upon narratives of fraught masculinity and trapped femininity, he humorously probes gendered expressions of love and strife in the sweltering heat of the Top End. Other works take their cue from recent superhero narratives depicting women as action heroes wrestling crocodiles or fighting the bad guys. Through parody, Gohier exposes the limited range of positions inscribed in many popular culture texts and the heterosexist frameworks that reinforce particular ways of being.

"Gohier’s practice is built upon a vast cultural substratum that spans the disciplines of art-making, social commentary, and historical inquiry – mobilising elements of all, without ever committing to one."

Tai Mitsuji, writer, art historian and curator

In contrast, many of Therese Ritchie’s depictions are informed by the everyday scenes she witnesses on the streets around her. Her camera lens observes quarrels and clashes and men behaving badly, intoxicated by the Territory’s drinking culture. As cultural observer Susan Carson notes ‘as the temperature rises, so too does the propensity for violence.’ This regularly plays out in Darwin, a city with the highest rates of alcohol consumption per capita in Australia. Ritchie’s photographs are worked up into digital collages informed by art historical precedents. She is interested in the legacy of heterosexist frameworks that segregate gender into binary categories denying more nuanced understandings. In a number of images, she spotlights more fluid enactments to open up gender to a broader range of embodiment.

"At the heart of Therese Ritchie’s extensive oeuvre … is a refusal to compromise as an artist. Her work is deliberately historically derivative in style, but clearly empowering … and brandishes its politics for the benefit of developing a greater awareness of the lives of individuals enlarged upon through Ritchie’s journalistic agency and love of storytelling."

Chips Mackinolty, artist and collaborator

As the temperature rises around the world through global warming, Some Like it Hot presents a timely opportunity to explore the synergies and tensions in the relationship between heat, place, and gendered behaviour.