12 June - 28 June 2008

Drew Pettifer

A photographic series of highly sexualised images of young men. Produced in the documentary photographic artistic tradition with the significant twist that half of the images will be printed on to cake icing.


Cake boy[keIk b⊃I] (n)
1.     Early 90’s slang for what is now termed a metrosexual
2.     A male that is often confused for being gay, but is really straight



Drew Pettifer has been described as evoking “a well-known photographic tradition, spanning legendary photographer Nan Goldin, through to contemporary artists such as New York-based Ryan McGinley.”1The two new series exhibited here feature intimate moments with the artist’s friends and lovers.  One series is printed directly onto cake icing.

Five large cakes have been adorned with sexualised images of young men in varying states of undress.  By printing the images onto cakes the artist creates a cheeky pun on the term “cake boy,” since all of the subjects are indeed slim, attractive and somewhat feminine, pictured in enticingly erotic poses.  Curiously, none of these “cake boys” identify as gay.

More than just a pun, however, the artist’s decision to print the most salacious images in the show onto cake icing is intended to prompt the viewer to question issues of consumption and deterioration, death and decay.  The materiality of the works has an ambiguous relationship with the process of consumption, as the cakes’ heightened consumability as edible objects paradoxically curtails their ability to be consumed as art objects.  The question of having a “use-by date” is extended also to the young men printed on the cakes: how soon will their beauty fade?  When will their virility decline?  The deterioration of the cakes serves to highlight the often fleeting nature of physical beauty.

On the walls of the gallery hang a series of framed images featuring some of the same young men.  These photographs are innocent images, expressions more of a “pure” desire and contemplation of beauty, rather than of lust.  They are the “Picture of Dorian Gray” to each cake’s decaying reality.  In celebrating and “capturing” a man’s youth, do the works slow its decline, or accelerate it?   The differing imagery and presentation, in contrast to the cakes, draws out the distinctions and commonalities between different forms of desire, and between the art object and the consumer item.

All photography, and in particular documentary photography, may be described as an attempt to capture what Henri Cartier-Bresson called the “decisive moment”.  The “decisive moment”, he said, was “the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as the precise organisation of forms which give that event its proper expression.”2Intrinsically linked to this conceptis the idea of memory, as the photograph in a sense both represents and recreates a particular moment.  At celebrations and other “memorable” events, the camera is as ubiquitous as the cake.  Drew Pettifer’s two seriesprompt us to wonder whether by preserving an image, we can halt the loss of innocence and the withering of desire.

Roger Nelson and Drew Pettifer

End Notes:

1.  Jeff Khan and Mark McDean, Room to Move Gallery Notes, 2003.

2.  Henri Cartier-Bresson, The Decisive Moment, 1952.

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Information / bio of artist/s if available. Artist name should be bolded once only at the beginning of paragraph. Example below:

Since completing his BFA in 2016 at VCA, Trent Crawford has exhibited at Trocadero Art Space exhibition NEWER17, Blindside’s, George Paton Gallery (upcoming), and was selected as the VCA representative at Sugar Mountain festival. Crawford’s practice focuses on dismantling; interrogating the machinations of built technology, and its perceptions in different contexts by usurping its functionality and presenting them in a passive state.

Lucy Foster completed a BFA (Photography) at VCA in 2016. Delving into an archive of constructed and found imagery, the nature of Foster’s practice touches on topics of presence and absence within time. Often using elements that embody both personal and historical significance, her approach is autobiographical with an emphasis on analogue techniques and physical interventions. Foster has exhibited both nationally and internationally with institutions including the George Paton Gallery and Margaret Lawrence Gallery. Her work has been featured in Frankie magazine.

Edith Gilfedder examines obsolete technology and pixels through alternative image-making processes, often using the square as a motif. Gilfedder’s large-scale works use time-based processes and bright colours. She graduated in 2016 from RMIT.