West Space will host the Melbourne premiere of POWA WAVE, Hannah Brontë’s major 2022 digital commission for UTS Gallery & Art Collection. POWA WAVE frames the experiences of Queer women in Australia’s surfing culture. Working with Queer female surfers as her subjects, Brontë’s new digital artwork explores the radical act of being a woman in the ocean today.
The history of surfing has its roots firmly planted as far back as the 12th century in Polynesia predating any European contact. Imagery is depicted on cave walls of humans surfing towering waves. The contemporary surf culture we see today was developed by the first peoples of Hawaii and popularised in the Americas. We didn’t see surfing on the island of “Australia” until 1914, when Hawaiian Great Duke “the Big Kahuna” Kahanamoku surfed a 16-foot pine Malibu on Manly Beach, Sydney.
“There are now 2.7 million surfers nationally and yet being a Queer surfer is still considered dangerous and taboo. Being a woman in the surf, let alone a Queer woman, takes a sport so freeing and transcendent and makes it a radical act of defiance. POWA WAVE is a Queer romance that follows two lovers in the waves. They joyfully and powerfully walk on water, connected to each other and the ocean. Water supports them completely, letting them be weightless and held in their love and wild Queer joy. The lovers wear sweet suits, costumes that adorn Queer bodies to make the world gentler. The sweet suits are love letters to the camp history of wearable art and are decorated with the incantation ‘me and my love are safe in the waves’. POWA WAVE is the freedom to repaint the world with the beauty and complexity of people in love. You are close enough to smell the salt.”
– Hannah Brontë
An accompanying publication will reflect the central role of language in Brontë’s practice, bringing together her text-based works produced over the last decade within the context of POWA WAVE. West Space will collaborate with UTS and the artist to co-produce and co-publish this publication, launched at the opening of the West Space exhibition
Perry Street Building
Floor access to the Perry Street Building can be made via the following paths. From 30A Perry Street, a footpath leads to the retail area of Perry St (UG) and courtyard. The Perry Street Lift can be accessed via 30A and 30B Perry Street, allowing access to levels 1 and 2 of Perry Street Building. From Johnston Street access to Perry St Building can be made by crossing the courtyard.
Accessible toilets are located in three areas within the Perry Street Building. On the Upper Ground Level (Level UG) the accessible toilets are located in the service corridor in the northern part of the Building. near the staircase. These toilets are open throughout event hours. On L1 and L2 the toilets are located in the northern part of the building, behind heavy manual blue double doors. All accessible toilets are equipped with manual locks, exit buttons and grab rails.