An overboard repurposing of the Diamantina’s most spacious internal room results in an immersive and experiential installation. The work extends, embellishes and mixes pre-existing stereotypes emblematic of warships and party boats alike: libidinal repression; growth of male-to-male relationships; bodily injury and violent death; rum as the drink of choice; and the propensity of isolated spaces to foster and enable subversive fantasies.
Taking the position that the ward room is merely a front for “clean leisure”, this work repurposes the space as a dimly-lit party room located deep within the labyrinthine structure of the larger vessel. Fitted out with camp and kitsch visual stimulus (bedazzled wartime portraits & nautical props you could only find at the worst seafood restaurant), handcrafted ceramics (prized acquisitions of sailors with a heart), a television playing eye-candy in the form of fetishised violence with an audio track of house music piped into the whole space (performance video & soundtrack constructed with Andrew McLellan), and topless waiter serving only rum shots.
The VHS video, playing in the corner of the room, contains imagery of men using their body as a secondary vessel of violence and site of libidinal repression. Deadly weapons (e.g. the pickaxe) will be turned into silicone film props then turned back into deadly weapons as they are used against one another. Soft body, soft weapon, hard cock? Yeah.
Historically, the ward room is a special place of sanctuary away from the ship’s captain. With the captain only allowed to enter upon invitation (a form of submission), the space represented the rare opportunity for the average sailor to enjoy a sense of power amongst ranks. Viewers are invited to play out and take hold of this dominant position via the exploration and exploitation of this seminal space.