This Wednesday you will have two very big reminders that Mardi Gras is about to kick off, as the windows of Oxford Street’s Platform72 are adorned with two glistening muscle men, unashamedly demonstrating their iron-pumping prowess.

With the rainbow flag an almost ubiquitous fixture adorning the majority of businesses on Oxford Street and its surrounds, we sometimes forget that back in 1978 Sydney was a very different place.

In our not-so-distant past, when homosexuality was a crime, a peaceful parade erupted in violence in a clash with police that left many wounded and led to 53 arrests. Defiant, the organisers repeated the celebrations the following year and the rest, as they say, is history. Put simply, Mardis Gras has made an unsurpassable impact on community attitudes and anti-discrimination laws in New South Wales and Australia. [fold]

Although Mardi Gras is now a Sydney and international institution (last year it saw a colourful march of 10,000), the need to emphasise the queer perspective continues.

So, back to the bodybuilders.

At a very Mardi Gras-appropriate Oxford Street location, Platform72’s Blow Up will bring together a group of queer photographers who challenge the definitions of identity and physicality. Featuring both established and emerging artists, the show will see place the human body on the podium (quite literally), as the photographers explore various LGBTQI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, and Intersex) issues, providing a cross-generational perspective.

The artists use various form photographic methodologies to convey their messages. Expect intimate black and white portraits from Brenton Parry, an interesting mix of film and paint from Matto Lucas and a curious series from commended Chinese-Australian artist William Yang, who is well-known for his documentary photographs and narrative monologues. A trailblazer for 30 years, Yang first polarised viewers with his 1977 debut exhibition Sydneyphiles, which documented Sydney’s gay party scene.

While the muscle men will unfortunately only be present at the Blow Up opening party (which is also Platform72’s first birthday celebration), you will have the chance to visit the exhibition until March 5.

Blow Up at Platform 72 shows from February 19 until March 5.

Platform 72
72 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst
0401 177 291

Tues & Wed 11am–7pm
Thurs 11am–9pm
Fri 11am–8pm
Sat 11am–6pm
Sun noon–5pm