We got a sneak peek at the fabulous inflatable art installation coming to Taylor Square soon to mark four decades of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.
The winner of the Taylor Square Public Art Project, launched by Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and proudly supported by the City of Sydney, is Matthew Aberline and Maurice Goldberg’s ’40 Years of Love’.
"It’ll be nine metres high at its highest point above the ground,” Maurice explains. “That’s higher than a three-storey building. We want people to notice this – it’s a big, sassy, loud, undeniably in-your-face installation.”
— Sydney Mardi Gras (@sydneymardigras) June 9, 2018
“We were struggling to describe a singular image to describe the history of Mardi Gras - it’s so varied, political, sexual, and the history of it is so complicated,” adds Matthew. “So rather than trying to find a singular item, we decided to make a microcosm of what Mardi Gras is about – the good stuff, the bad stuff, and the celebration.
“There are a lot of symbols included. We’re creating a work which tells about the history of Mardi Gras in a way that’s also very cheeky and playful. And upon lingering investigation you’ll find hidden messages, hidden layers, even a ‘naughty corner’.
“It’s a 360-degree work, with many different things to see from every angle. We’re really honoured to be the storytellers with this work. It’s going to be huge.”
“We decided we didn’t want to include the history in words,” says Maurice. “We wanted people to sit under it, lay under it, wander around it and wonder at this huge pink triangle that’s loaded with imagery.
“We think that the revolution to create change with art has come about through happiness and joy. So this is a full-on celebration, even though it embodies all the tough stuff as well.
“Inclusion's another key. The gay community is not a single entity. It is so many different things to different people. Capturing all those separate microcosms but creating something that had unity was a really fabulous challenge."
Maurice and Matthew also worked with gay Aboriginal artist Lawrence Shearer on a symbol to represent First Nations People. “He created one called ‘inclusion’ which describes a fishing watering hole where everybody’s welcome,” says Matthew.
The installation will be launched in Taylor Square on Sunday 24 June – the date of the first-ever Mardi Gras march in 1978 – and will remain there until 1 September 2018.
“At Mardi Gras in March, they were talking about the 40th anniversary of the festival, but the 24th of June is the actual date,” points out Maurice. “It’s our day – it’s our Stonewall. This is the anniversary of a 40 year revolution that began in blood, in tears, and behind bars. It destroyed lives. Here we are 40 years on, with incredible liberty. We can’t understate it – this is so much more than a party. This is us putting our stake in the ground. Over 40 years the diverse LGBTQI community has come so far.
“The 24th of June 1978 was the beginning of in-your-face revolution. This is a time to think about the people who actually risked their lives in 1978, and the evolutionaries and revolutionaries over the last 40 years. The artists, the politicians, the social workers, the professionals, the drag queens, the trans people… I think it’s really important that we hold this day and remember it into the future.”