James Barth’s self portraiture work is simultaneously delicate and aggressive - insightful and challenging. Reflecting on iconography and stereotypical expectations surrounding the LBGT culture of Australia, Barth presents the viewer with altered imagery that invites one to analyse one's own biases.
Within his work ACDC is for fags, study Barth takes the overly aggressive, masculine culture associated with the iconic Australian rock band and reverses it’s binaries, a technique also used in I wish I was a tacky bitch, with the alteration of the VB logo to a pink hue. By altering these icons and their symbolic connotations, Barth challenges the widely popular belief that the ‘gay’ culture exists superficially. He poses the idea that there are many subcultures of the LBGT community, as there are many subcultures of the masculine identity.
Barth’s self portrait Untitled further explores these multi-layered sexual identities. Untitled expresses an anxiety with how one represents oneself. In relation to the work Barth states:
“A self-portrait, examining two ideas, one my disposition of being an effeminate male, and desiring to be beautiful and glamorous. A typical female mentality of not being able to reach the near impossible standards of beauty, however these standards are impossible for me. Utilizing this idea of queer arts failure to express my desire of beauty and self-image.”
Barth’s work is charged with deep self-reflection and this reflection expresses an inner turmoil that many individuals experience. Through his exploration of self, Barth conveys universal anxieties that his audience can relate to.