Hayley Grant | 17 January 2017

Have you heard of MELT Festival? If not, you seriously need to check it out. Presented by the Brisbane Powerhouse MELT is an invitation to celebrate Brisbane’s wonderfully diverse queer communities. The two-week festival showcases the electric work of talented Brisbane artists whilst reflecting on the struggles the LGBTI+ community face and also promoting their achievements.

Local artist Joel Devereux will be showcasing his second major body of work as an exhibition and book throughout the festival. As the co-producer of Vanguard Burlesque and creative portrait photographer, Joel’s flair has seen him photograph a number of personalities and celebrities from The Veronicas to stars from RuPaul’s Drag Race.

His latest exhibition #FOODP*RN draws on the recent obsessions with food trends and celebrity chefs while celebrating the male form. In the lead up to the festival, MyCityLife caught up with him to talk about #FOODP*RN, his processes and his thoughts on the importance of social media in the art world.

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Joel, many of our readers might not be aware of #FOODP*RN. Could you tell us about the exhibition?
#FOODP*RN is my second solo exhibition which opens at Brisbane Powerhouse, Australia Day Eve, January 25th 2017! There is an accompanying 124 page hardcover photo book to the body of work which I will also be launching on the night at the opening of MELT 2017.

What was your motivation or inspiration behind #FOODP*RN and what do you hope people will take away from your exhibition?
After years of being bombarded with countless images of mediocre food being hashtagged as #foodporn on Instagram, I’ve decided to take my stand and create some literal ‘food porn’. Over a year and a half in the making, the creative concept series evolved into a commentary and parody on how the notion of #foodporn is much less about satisfying a primal need to survive, and much more about visual consumption. A send up of consumer attitudes and celebration of the male form like you’ve never seen it before.

We understand you’ll be launching your first book of photographs at the exhibition can you tell us what people might expect to see inside?
#FOODP*RN is actually my second major body of work and book of photographs. I launched my first series ‘HYDRA’ at Brisbane Powerhouse for the very first MELT Queer Arts Festival two years ago, which was a dark and alternate visual of modern masculinity. #FOODP*RN is quite a departure from this more series offering, with ‘ass-centric’ imagery, sugar coated bodies and a few surprises.

What do you think of the local art scene in Brisbane, in particular, accessibility to affordable galleries for artists?
I’ve been quite fortunate in my pursuit of exhibition spaces in Brisbane. There are a lot of opportunities here and part of the fun is discovering them. I enjoy unconventional exhibition spaces as much as white-wall galleries. Exhibitions can be an expensive exercise and it can be daunting at times if you’re a self-funded creative like myself.

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Do you have a process for your photography, if so what is it?
I take quite a lot of pride in my process and for that reason it’s personal. For #FOODP*RN I had a strict regiment for how I conducted shoots, with over 80 models featured from all over Australia. The majority of the shoots were conducted in my studio in Brisbane, however I also travelled along the East coast to Sydney & Melbourne to shoot some boys. Easily the messiest shoot series I’ve ever done, I held a number of shoot days due to the set up process being quite involved, where I would photograph eight to ten models each session back to back. I did end up destroying a backdrop or two as not all foods featured can be contained in a studio space so easily, especially when it’s poured on a moving body.

You have a great social media presence and relationship with your followers what is your view on social media for artists?
Thank you kindly! I have been on social media for quite some time now and I think it’s important to understand not to take it too seriously. I feel #FOODP*RN in essence is also a send up of our obsession with social media, but also a celebration of it. I owe a lot to my social media networks, as it’s where I have made some wonderful connections with models, other artists and friends I’ve had for years. I know some creative people have a separate outlet for their work and then another for their personal life, but mine is more a big melting pot of everything I enjoy. I don’t feel I’m calculated enough in my approach to life in general to censor myself in this regard; I just tend to post everything I enjoy. That being said, it is still a filtered reality for everyone signed up to a social media account. No one is entirely themself online, and I’ve known people to use this to their strength or detriment. A bad workman always blames his tools.

Describe #FOODP*RN 3 words for us.
FOOD. BOYS. ASS.

Book Launch
6pm, Wednesday Jan 25
Visy Foyer, Brisbane Powerhouse, 119 Lamington Street, New Farm

#FOODP*RN
Wednesday January 25 - Sunday February 5
Visy Foyer, Brisbane Powerhouse, 119 Lamington Street, New Farm

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