NAS Queer Contemporary: SKIN DEEP

NAS Queer Contemporary: SKIN DEEP

Friday 19th February 2021

10:00 am

Sunday 7th March 2021

5:00 pm

Cell Block Theatre

National Art School

Cnr Forbes & Burton Street


Wheelchair Accessible

SKIN DEEP is an interactive exhibition that presents intimate and personal stories of LGBTQI+ people through their tattooed bodies and stories, celebrating diversity, defiance and body art.

The Exhibition is made up of several unique components – presented as one integrated audience experience or as separate experiences. LGBTQI+ community participation is central to all components of SKIN DEEP - as narrators, models, storytellers and performers.

SKIN DEEP is produced by the National Art School, curated by NAS Executive Producer, Terese Casu and presented as part of the 2021 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.


Celebrated Sydney fashion photographer, Waded, brings her skills of cutting edge fashion portraiture, to capture authentic but highly styled portraits of diverse tattooed bodies that tell unique stories through their body art. 

Woven through the photographic exhibition will include historical images and the background of LGBTQI+ tattooed symbols used over last century to convey political messages or to reveal one's identity. The LGBTQI+ community are invited to contribute to the Exhibition through an interactive story wall of images and stories about their first tattoo.

Exhibition open Friday 19 February - Sunday 7 March at the Cell Block Theatre. Free to enter.


An unmissable performance choreographed by Meryl Tankard, featuring The Amazing Ari, Geoff Ostling and Basjia Almaan. Book today to avoid disappointment.

Curated by NAS Executive Producer Terese Casu, SKIN DEEP is an interactive exhibition that presents intimate and personal stories of LGBTQI+ people through their tattooed bodies and stories, celebrating diversity, defiance and body art.

SKIN DEEP is made up of several unique components including a photographic exhibition, live performance and interactive events.

Please note body nudity will be included as part of the exhibition and performances.

Artist Line-up:

Basjia Almaan is a proud black queer woman. She is a model, creative director, stylist, and performance artist, who also has an interest in health and fitness, and is passionate about body appreciation. She is also part of the Ballroom community, belonging to the Kiki House of Silky, and has competed in the Face, Body and Sex Siren categories. She honours her divine feminine energy by celebrating her curvier body through images and movement. 

Blake Lawrence is an interdisciplinary artist working across photography, drag, video, performance and ceremony. Lawrence works in bodily entanglement with crude and camera-less photographic processes, exploring queer lineage, speculative world-building, and marginal mourning practices, at the edge. Born from Yaegl land and waters in Northern NSW, Lawrence lives and works on Gadigal land. They have exhibited locally and interstate, at Firstdraft, Seventh Gallery, C3 Contemporary, The Walls and Verge, and have presented live work at Brisbane’s Spring Hill Reservoirs, the Art Gallery of NSW and Newcastle’s This Is Not Art.

Growing up in a modern matriarchal Indian family in Singapore, Shahmen processes his sense of displacement from home as Radha, the Diva from India. Being in Australia has given Shahmen multiple perspectives on migration, culture, race and gender, which he discusses openly through his alter ego, Radha, sharing stories the way he learnt them from his mother’s kitchen. Radha’s multifaceted practice has also seen them perform/host numerous music festivals and events, workshops for kids and as a chef for the ABC TV show The Set.

Diana Popovska studied at the Atlantic Theatre School in NYC. Onstage, Diana is best known for her portrayal of Kendra in the Australian Premiere of The Gulf, which she produced through her theatre company, LUME Productions in 2017, and she has been confirmed as a Griffin Theatre Company Studio Artist for 2021. Diana’s on-screen credits include Bump (STAN), Rake (ABC), feature film Skinford and The Pilgrim Report.  Diana has written and directed several short films and the award-winning short documentary, What Are We If Different?, as well as creating PLANS, a web series she wrote, directed, produced and starred in. 

Tommy Misa is a Samoan Australian Fa’afafine person who lives on Gadigal country. Tommy has trained with NIDA, The Hub, The Atlantic Acting School and ATYP. Tommy's screen credits include Ding Dong I’m Gay (2020), Liberty St (2020) and The Unusual Suspects for SBS (2021). Tommy created A viral series, a web series shot during isolation in 2020 on iPhone. On stage Tommy has performed in their own works and has collaborated on performative works for the Cuban Biennale (2019), NIRIN, Biennale of Sydney (2020) and The Art Gallery of NSW (2020). Tommy has performed extensively at Secret Garden festival, Sydney Oprah house, Sydney Mardi Gras, First Draft Gallery and at Queer club nights and parties around Sydney. 

The Amazing Ari has wowed audiences the world over, employing physical skill, costume, sound and light in astounding aerial routines everywhere from clubs in London, Berlin, Paris, Milan and NYC to corporate functions in the Middle East. Arian found acclaim performing the innovative human mirror ball in 2001 and a breathtaking aerial silk routine, blindfolded, at the Erotica Showcase in London in 2008, and appeared at the Sydney Opera House in the Late Night Lounge Cabaret, and with the internationally toured hit West End show, The Hurly Burly Show. A regular aerialist on the London cabaret circuit, Arian is also a regular with the Australian arts scene, including the Sydney Festival and Sydney Mardi Gras.

Performances 19, 20, 21, 26, 27 and 28 February at the Cell Block Theatre. Book tickets here.