Most representations of gays and lesbians on TV lean to what is supposedly aesthetic: those who are younger, prettier, white, middle-class, successful, vibrant individuals. Whether as reality judges, flamboyant contestants, same-sex kissers on soap, celebrity gossipers or sitcom comic foils, most are easy on the eye. So many others in the rainbow remain invisible.
Anatomy, an anthology produced by Michael McMahon and Tony Ayres, comprises documentaries that shift the balance. We meet 3 subjects remarkable for their body, talent and spirit. This anthology also challenges conventions of gay lifestyles.
The first, and probably the most interesting, is Skin –a profile of Geoff Ostling, a 65 year old gay man defiantly proud in his splendor. His overweight body is adorned with a tapestry of tattoos on almost every inch of skin. Over 25 years Ostling has accrued a “living work of art”. Central to his torso are two teddy bears decorated by brilliant flowers.
As they work towards the final touches of his body suit, Ostling and his artist, a woman named eX de Medici, share a unique bond. In creating this living work they have come to trust one another through an intimacy necessitated by the art itself. Now as he looks to the future, Ostling explores ways his body suit can be preserved after his death. He meets with a taxidermist, undertaker, art gallery and even travels to Tokyo where a museum exhibits bodied displays.
Ostling is a vibrant storyteller. The colours of his skin are only matched by his personality and passion for his most individual ambition. He sparkles in brave and heartfelt scenes at home with his partner, Joe Chapman. Directed by Rhys Graham, this film has been invited to the TriBeCa Film Festival.
The following week Heart introduces us to Tasmanian painter Jacqui Stockdale and her muse Rose Mastroianni. After meeting in the early 1990’s Jacqui painted Rose and began a passionate, fiery affair. All the while Jacqui was already partnered. This story defies conventions and is a torrid meeting of minds, bodies and talent. Finally, in Muscle, HIV positive Mozes is an acrobat within a small touring troupe who reminds us that strength of character is as important as body. Look out for a theatrical, political performance soaked in blood red.
Anatomy is a distinctive, bold collection.
Artscape: Anatomy begins 10:05pm Tuesday April 14 on ABC1.