Hannah Gadsby : The Exhibitionist

By Alanta Colley

Barry Award nominee and author of the successful ABC art doco ‘Hannah Gadsby’s Oz’, Hannah Gadsby is back this Comedy Festival with a fresh batch of self-deprecation and tragi-comedy.

In this year’s show Hannah turns her trained art historian’s eye to the hilariously terrible world of the selfie. The theme is simple and effective. Hannah guides us through some of the internet’s most egregious examples of selfies which communicate much more than the composer intended. We learn of the failed cleavage shot; the tense selfie, the pet selfie and the selfie with unfortunate background composition. In a media-soaked world the demonstration of poorly executed self promotion through selfies is truly hilarious. Hannah then takes us on an adventure through the selfies of the ages (painted portraits, both of others and self-portraits) and we start to examine the symbolism of composition. So much has changed with the advent of the Iphone, and yet, in many ways, so little.

Hannah, of course, turns the critical eye on her own selfies, and even more unfortunately the portraits seized by others of Hannah while out and about, capturing many of Hannah’s less flattering sides. We take a tour of Gadsby’s awkward, traumatic and unglamorous childhood and adolescence through the through the artless photography conducted by her folks. Catharsis is achieved as Gadsby airs the skeletons of her youth.

Gadsby is a master of self-deprecation and holding up to the light those parts of her life that the rest of us would do our best to bury. In this show Hannah combines the style of her annual Art Lecture series through examination and analysis of the image, with her more direct stand-up, which usually focuses on exploration of herself. It’s a pleasing fusion.

The mistress of the anti-climax and over-lord of understatement; the furiously clever Hannah Gadsby is always a pleasure to spend an hour with. You’ll not be disappointed with this visual journey to the self.

The Exhibitionist is on at Melb Town Hall – Supper Room until April 20