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Tarzan Jungle Queen

A 21-hour bus ride to the centre of Australia might not sound like much fun for some, but for Darwin multi-disciplinary queer artist Tarzan JungleQueen, the long-haul ride down the track – with their creative tools in tow – was full of excitement and anticipation.

Tarzan was selected for the Travelling Artist Residency at Watch This Space in Alice Springs – the only Artist Run Initiative in Central Australia. The residency attracted the highest number of applications in 26 years, with Tarzan heading to the Red Centre for the month of February to focus on their project Do I Seduce You?.

Tarzan says having the opportunity to work in Alice Springs was a real draw card.

“I really like Alice Springs. It’s got that warm Territory feel that I love, like Darwin. The community is just so lovely. If I need a bike, they offer me a bike, if I need a car, they offer me a car. I thought it was the perfect place to take my project to the next level,” they said.

Tarzan put their application in late last year, and felt the nature of the residency was especially appealing to them.

“It’s comforting knowing the bulk of my work can be created here with no pressure to have a finalised exhibition ready at the end. Instead, I’ll have a small studio exhibition showing progress. Plus having to take the final artworks back on the bus would be a nightmare!”

Themes of self, gender and identity have formed the basis of Tarzan’s work, exploring their experience as a queer bodied human finding their voice.

“The proposal I put forward was to do with multiple things but with a theme of gender, Mother Nature and self,” they said.

“In 2019, I was given the opportunity to be part of Octopus, a program with Johanna Bell from StoryProjects and Erica Wagner of Allen & Unwin. It’s a story project where they engaged artists to go through a six-month mentorship to create a book or work for publication.

“Through that, I started working on a book called Do I Seduce You? – my first foray into illustrated text which explores queer bodies and gender, mostly my own. It’s mostly visual but the text included is done through a process called poetry collage, which was the first time I found words to relay my message.”

Do I Seduce You? also touches on the theme of geographic privilege systems, where voices in bigger cities are heard more. Tarzan grew up in the country and feels there’s space for more books to be created for queer rural/remote teens.

“This book is about my journey, which is a hard thing to do – as a visual artist, my art has always said the things I haven’t been able to find the words to say, this memoir has become my voice.

“I hope to exhibit late this year in either Darwin or as a travelling exhibition throughout regional Australia. The booklet will accompany the exhibition and hopefully be picked up by a publishing company to be distributed to rural and remote schools and youth organisations.”

Watch this space…



Photo: Tarzan JungleQueen, 'Free the Nip', 2020, posca on card

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