One of Leigh Bowery’s costumes, Pregnant Tutu Head, is included in the current exhibition ManStyle (a broad survey of menswear from 1740 to the present) at the NGV in Melbourne. So how should institutions display this kind of stuff? Leg of Lamb last encountered Bowery’s outrageous costumes at the 2005 Venice Biennale. The curated exhibition at the Arsenale included mannequins sporting some of his flashiest numbers set freely amidst photographs and projections of selected performances by the artist. The installation ensured that the costumes were both enlivened and contextualised as part of Bowery’s wider practice. But at the NGV, Pregnant Tutu Head sits in isolation behind glass like a lost, extinct specimen. Which, when presented like this, I suppose it is.
ManStyle, National Gallery of Victoria, 180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne, until October 30th.