As children navigating the banal social milieu of suburbia, performance art duo The Huxleys saw two options: conform, or be fabulous. They chose the latter.
"One of our heroes is filmmaker John Waters, and he always said find what others hate about you or teased you about and amplify it. Make it your style. We always thought if you aren't going to fit in you may as well make that spectacular," the two performers tell Creators.
Respectively raised in the suburbs of the Gold Coast and Perth, the couple longed for something with more danger and glamour, so, naturally, after meeting one another they combined their hearts and skills to saturate the world with their idiosyncratic aesthetic of "demented sparkling" performance art.
"We never actually set out to be performance artists, we just started to put the things we loved together from our imagery and videos and brought them to life on stage and at parties. We never anticipated that the ridiculous, awful things we would do in the privacy of our studio would be shared regularly with the public. We're both visual artists but it's probably only been in the last four years that we have been producing performance art together. We share a similar sense of humour and a desire to shock and push images and ideas to the extremes–being perverse and over the top is essential in what we do."
By combining costumes, photography, video and performance, they aim to throw their audiences into a phantasmagorical assault laced with humour, emotion and somatic escapes from everyday life. Working recently at Dark Mofo, the pair created a full scale glam rock spectacle. There was the fictitious band called S.O.S (Style Over Substance), music videos, backing singers and dancers, pyrotechnics, glitter cannons, and even humans dressed as dogs. The hitch–no music. It was an art project that "confused" spectators, but The Huxleys jumped at the opportunity to experiment and challenge the weird and wonderful elements of art.
"Art doesn't have to be so serious and cerebral. I think sometimes people forget that it needs to be an experience that makes you feel something, and for us a big part of that is humour and visual stimulation. We often will think of the stupidest most ridiculous concept and work from there."
Inspired by the glam of Bowie, T. Rex, Roxy Music, Prince, and Boy George, "all those things had a marvellous influence on making us totally bent," the pair aim to imbue their art with gender bending concepts and equally amorphous, ethereal costumes.
"We love playing with gender and confusing fuck wits who come up to us when we are in costumes and ask if you are a chick or a dude. Who cares. We like the freedom of playing with gender and not having to fit in any particular mould. It does seem to be an exciting time when young people are having a sense of choice and freedom to not have to conform to such strict ideas of male and female and we love that. It was definitely not the case when we were growing up. If you even wore the colour pink you were beaten up or called a fag. We work with a lot of inspiring performers who play with gender and drag and they are like a family."
It's an ethos that isn't confined to the stage–it seeps into their daily existence, suffusing every nook, cranny, and orifice.
"For us our art makes us laugh and makes us happy. Being able to make things that we love is a luxury. We will often be talking about giant inflatable vagina's and gold sequinned encrusted dildos. We can't imagine a life where that isn't part of your everyday dialogue. We are surrounded by costumes, art works and imagery, our studio and our home is a mass of colour and kitsch. We take inspiration from things all the time. And we like to make your daywear a bit more glamorous too. There is a lot of gold in our wardrobes. We think it's generous to dress up for life, whenever we see someone out of the ordinary or who stands out it really makes your day."
Starting with a concept, they look at fabrics, objects and shapes to conjure something onto paper that visually excites them. When acquiring fabric, glitter, and sequins, no expense is spared, and this comes through in the visual masterpieces they masterfully manufacture.
"We both have individual skills that we call upon to make our art. Garrett is a great sewer and Will does a lot of the photography and video work. But we help each other with every element. A lot of time is spent in the studio making and trialling things. We have a tiny green screen area and pretty much exist in costume chaos. We fund our art ourselves and it helps when people want to buy prints of our work or book us for gigs or arts events that helps supplement the sequin fund."
The pair dream of representing Australia at the Venice Biennale…or alternatively, Eurovision.
"Imagine a full-scale camp spectacular: costumes, pyrotechnics, backup dancers. That's a dream."
Find out more about Will Huxley here and Garrett Huxley here.