Melbourne based artist Aurora Campbell explores themes of gender, sex, sexuality, sociology and humans in her work through a honest, female lens. “We live in a world saturated with male dominated depictions of sex and beauty, so I think it’s really important as an artist to portray these themes in a raw, uncensored light. I also love to dissect existing Australian cultures (especially white Australian culture), by using the grotesque as a way of exposing toxic structures.” We caught up with Aurora to discuss her work and using social media as a tool for change.
What themes do you explore in your work and why?
Sex, gender and fragility. I think the relationship between those themes is profound, There is so much within them to unpack and explore. I don’t think anyone could ever fully exhaust those topics, they are such fundamental factors to our being.
In some of your art you present issues by distorting figures into the grotesque. Do you feel that the ‘anti-beauty’ movement has been effective in encouraging viewers to change their thought patterns from those which society has conditioned us to accept?
I think there is beauty in the grotesque, and I like distorting figures as a way of merging beauty and grotesqueness, and to challenge the line between ‘beautiful’ and ‘ugly’. Unconventionality is celebrated, and I think that allows people to more readily embrace their uniqueness, rather than to try and squeeze into an idea.
Do you think social media can be used as a tool to break down some of the injustices that exist relating to gender & sex?
Yes! With social media we are no longer forced sellable ideas of what we ‘should’ be. We are able to choose and filter which ideals we are looking at, and interact with people with similar values. I think it means the people we ‘follow’ and admire are (mostly) real, regular people; not as much of a construct or product made to cash in on our insecurities and sell us things. Most people I know don’t even own a television. It’s nice that young people today aren’t at the mercy of what they see on a tv screen regarding sex, gender norms and beauty quite as much.
What inspires you as an artist?
My work is about people; real, raw, regular people and all that comes with that. Sex, vulnerability, honesty, relationships and behaviour.
At Subvrt we encourage the idea that sex is a very natural and normal act, and that it should be discussed freely to enable education and awareness. Is one of your motives in depicting graphic sexual acts in art to disable barriers of fear that unfortunately still exist in society today when it comes to discussing sex?
I think it’s so important to normalise sex, to have conversations, for it to be an open dialogue. Sex is a really loaded topic, and it’s everywhere, but not always in the right ways. I think the more freely and truthfully it is represented in art, the more openly it’s talked about amongst people, which is where we have the most relatable and honest conversations regarding sex. When people can’t talk about it, they carry myths they’ve learnt from some far away source and are essentially held back. I love representing sex and erotica in a delicate, simplistic style because it lightens the topic, and makes it more palatable.
Are there any significant artists or creative muses who have had an impact on your work?
So many! I adore the work of Mario Maple and Dian Hanson. I get a lot of inspiration from Instagrammers that I follow; photographers, writers, artists, selfie queens. Muses would be the women in my life that I’m closest with, and the conversations I have with them.
How do you see your art evolving in the future?
I’m interested in public art, so lately I’ve been thinking about how my work could translate to a larger scale. My next goal is to find a way to make my artwork into a more discreet suggestion appropriate for public art.
Check out more of Aurora’s work on her Instagram.
Interview by Sara Nicolette, art by Aurora Campbell.