Heath Franco – Dream Home
Galerie Pompom, Chippendale, Sydney
19 June – 14 July 2012
Simultaneously repellent and compelling, Heath Franco’s video work draws the viewer in with its references to suburbia and keeps us there through exaggerated grotesquery and repetition. Epitomised by one bully caricature beating up a freaky, burn-marked toy with the repeated phrase “Stop hitting yourself”, the viewer may find they are unable to look away, effectively punishing themselves over and over. The wood-panelled interior of the gallery, rather than providing a sense of warmth which wood often gives, instead exudes a sickly yellow sense of suburban claustrophobia, as if we’re stuck in the kitsch kitchen cupboard of the Dream Home in question, forced to observe the goings-on in all their repetitive glory. Franco himself relishes the multitude of roles he adopts within this surreal pseudo-narrative. With a nod to the panto tradition, his not-fooling-anyone drag personas queasily chant their lines to the point of abstraction. These performances take on an element of endurance as we begin to notice Franco fatiguing while he imbues effort into every line. The non sequiturs in the work add to its surrealism, which regularly spills over into the realm of nightmare as we struggle to grasp for meaning within this foreign landscape. There is also humour in these motifs, perhaps because as a conscious viewer we are aware of our ability to separate ourselves from this scenario rather than become confused or controlled by it. Nonetheless there is still a compulsion to stay through the duration of Dream Home, to make some sense of it as one endeavours to make sense of one’s own dreams.
Images courtesy the artist and Galerie Pompom, Sydney. Please visit Galerie Pompom for more information.