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'FABULOUS - Acts Of Protest And Celebration' for the POWERHOUSE MUSEUM Sydney

Updated: Jul 17, 2023

'FABULOUS - Acts of Protest and Celebration' illuminated at night, welcoming visitors to the Powerhouse Museum 'Absolutely Queer' exhibition. Photo: Zan Wimberley

'FABULOUS - Acts of Protest and Celebration' is an expansive artwork at the entrance of the Powerhouse Museum and part of the year-long Absolutely Queer Exhibition. Created by Matthew Aberline with Maurice Goldberg and The Beautiful and Useful Studio, it is located at the museum entry and serves as a preview for the exhibition, which showcases contemporary queer artists in Sydney.

The Beautiful and Useful Studio takes great pride in collaborating with museums and galleries, fostering creative partnerships that lead to remarkable artistic experiences. Below, we outline some of the key considerations we embrace during our collaborative design process.

Connecting to Existing Museum Collections

One of the distinctive features of this artwork is its profound engagement with the museum's collection. The artists skilfully interpret and retell significant stories found within the museum's archives, drawing inspiration from the works of renowned artists such as Peter Tully, Brenton Heath-Kerr and David McDiarmid. Additionally, the artwork is influenced by global queer aesthetics, particularly the iconic graphic styles of Keith Haring and the powerful visual language of protest and AIDS activism.

Work-in-progress during the development and installation of 'FABULOUS - Acts of Protest and Celebration' at the Powerhouse Museum, 2023.

Purpose Designed for the Space and Visitor Interaction

As the dramatic entrance to the exhibition, FABULOUS required careful planning and collaboration with the museum. The studio team addressed engineering, construction, fire safety and tactile interaction points to ensure a safe and impactful experience for the expected tens of thousands of visitors during its year-long display.

With its impressive dimensions of seven meters in height and five meters in width, FABULOUS captivates viewers with its sheer scale. Constructed entirely from recycled materials, FABULOUS showcases The Beautiful and Useful Studio's commitment to sustainability. Created in a solar-powered Sydney-based studio, the artwork seamlessly combines art and environmental consciousness.

Celebrating and Showcasing Important Stories

The overarching narrative conveyed by FABULOUS is that of LGBTQI+ rights in Australia. It joyfully celebrates the hard-fought battle for Australian marriage equality, paying homage to the tireless efforts of equal rights advocates. Moreover, it addresses the historical mistreatment of homosexuals during and after World War II, and reflects on the devastating impact of the AIDS epidemic.

Visually, FABULOUS exudes vibrancy and life. Its vivid colours and intricate patterns draw inspiration from street and guerrilla art movements. By immersing visitors in this visually stimulating environment, the artwork invites them to go on a discovery experience as they engage with queer culture and history.

Through its grand scale, use of recycled materials and vibrant aesthetic, the artwork engages viewers in a powerful exploration of queer history, activism and the ongoing struggle for equality. As it serves as a focal point for the Absolutely Queer Exhibition, FABULOUS promises to leave a lasting impression on all who encounter it.

FABULOUS will be showing at the Absolutely Queer Exhibition until December 2023. Visit the exhibition here.

Work-in-progress during the development and installation of 'FABULOUS - Acts of Protest and Celebration' at the Powerhouse Museum, 2023.

That oh-so-satisfying part of the process that's always a crowd pleaser, the moment of inflation. 'FABULOUS - Acts of Protest and Celebration' at the Powerhouse Museum, 2023.

For more information about The Beautiful and Useful Studio's collaborations with museums and cultural institutions, check out our previous COLLABORATIONS!

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