HONCHO DISKO

A collection of works by Shelley Horan

Opening night
Thursday, 14 June
6 — 9pm

Exhibition runs
13 — 26 June

Brunswick Street Gallery
322 Brunswick Street
Fitzroy VIC 3065


“[Photography is] a chance to touch someone with a camera rather than physically”
 — Nan Goldin

Queerness is so often about contact - with ourselves, our loves, our negators. In a certain (usually dimmed) light, it is a bond between our bodies and pigments, fists, worn out zines, sweat, the tight-fitting top that only sees the inside of a closet or a club. It is also the act of transformation, of inner and outer parley, of navigating multiple worlds that seem to never collide - until you find the seam, the meeting place. It is fleeting, or it may only exist tonight. You may be there alone, or completely immersed by others. You might be on stage, on the dance floor, at the bar, in the toilet, or outside with the smokers, late-comers and comedowners. Wherever you are, you are experiencing queer touch.

What does it mean to document this queer contact? What happens when we transport a fragment of closeness away from itself? How do you show what is meant to be felt?

Shelley Horan’s “Honcho Disko” provides a certain response to these que(e)ries. Her photography negotiates a subject matter that is simultaneously stigmatised by conservatives, fetishised by str8 media, and otherwise mythologised or mystified by people who dare not enter. Honcho Disko, a queer performance and club night, is a microcosm, a world-within-a-world. It is home to drag extravaganzaists, clothing refuseniks, masked avengers, and every kind of queerdo within Melbourne city limits (and beyond!). Shelley’s year-long devotion to Honcho Disko has produced a body of work that gestures towards answers to those questions of the documentation, transfer, and display of queer actions.

These portraits hone in on moments of transition: between intensive performance and the stillness of a green room; Freak Mode and ‘civilian’ life; hyper-visibility and invisibility; crass rebellion and socially-enforced ‘nuance’; between pleasure, sorrow, laughter, grief or love. Her approach is a negotiation, an eking out of the in-between. Like pausing a movie in the middle of a star swipe, she has sought to capture those moments where one way of existing seems to only partially engulf the other. These transitions are often too quick to catch, obscured by our personal lenses or intentionally concealed by those who would rather not reveal all their secrets. Nonetheless, they are a part of queer existence and resistance. We each undergo daily transformations, and rarely do we get the opportunity to consider those moments where a retail worker becomes a slave becomes a floor cleaner. Shelley’s works are documents of those small transitional movements, transported to other places where they may resonate and induce those same feelings in others, and in that way, produce those queer feelings beyond the club walls.

Shoshana Rosenberg