Art vs Politics, the big picture

Queertank with Jeff McCann

Art V Politics talk
7PM-8.30PM | FREE | Includes pizza and a welcome drink

Ahead of our Queertank seminar Art V Politics on Tuesday 25 February, we sat down with local artist, friend and host Jeff McCann to talk about his artistic practice and expand on the topic at hand.

Graphic design of animals
Fight for the Bight – Luke John Matthew Arnold, 2019

Diving straight in… Art, and more specifically queer art, has a long history in being a conversation with a political agenda – what does that mean and can you unpack this a bit?

Art can be a very personal thing. It’s a form of self expression. When someone makes art (whether a drawing, painting, dance piece, performance, etc.) it’s important to remember that it is based on their thoughts, feelings, emotions and/or an idea. The other thing about art, is that it can be created simply for the artist themselves, OR to be consumed by an audience. The artist is in complete control of how the audience views the work.

For that reason art is can be seen as a very powerful tool for delivering a message, as it can convey messages in a number of ways. It can be brutally honest, hard hitting, pull at your heart strings, empowering, persuasive, etc. From that point of view, it can start a dialogue with the viewer – which is very exciting, especially for LGBTQIA+ people who for so long have fought to be heard.

Photo of a mural of two men getting married
Tony Abbott Same Sex Marriage mural – Scott Marsh, 2017


When looking at or experiencing someone’s work, what should we as viewers keep in mind?

I think the audience should try to remain open to receiving the entire message. Today’s world is so fast paced. Art is the perfect excuse to slow down and take in the entire experience. Watch the whole performance, read the artist’s bio, gaze at the artwork for a few minutes before moving onto the next. It will help to enrich your understanding of where the artist is coming from.

Photo of drag queen with text poem accompanying the image
Poem by Quinn Eades | Photo by Jamie James, 2018

What advice do you have for someone wanting to explore this in their own artistic practice?

I’ve always had an environmentally focused message running through my work but it’s usually subtle and not in your face. It’s only been in the past few years that I’ve started presenting my passion for the environment and celebrating queer identity more predominantly in my work. And it has totally empowered me in so many ways.

So I guess my advice would be to just go for it! It has helped me feel more comfortable in my own skin: I’m speaking my truth, it helps my audience understand me more, it helps me process my thought and better my mental health.

Colourful graphic art
Just Because I’m a Queer Guy – Jeff McCann, 2019

Continue this conversation at our Queertank: Art V Politics this Mardi Gras.