Artist Spotlight #23: Jonno Révanche

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Jonno Révanche

An Arts graduate from Adelaide now doing big, bright and beautiful things: Jonno Révanche is, quoting their twitter, “unabashedly earnest and seeking your validation”. While acting, writing and being, Jonno is the editor of the South Australian LGBTQIA Vaein Zine, while also editing the quarterly literary journal, Voiceworks Magazine. This bright young star dabbles in fashion, doing shoots for i-D Australia, modelling for numerous photographers, and has an extensive photographic history for different publications and websites.

Q: Hello Jonno! Can you please tell us a bit about yourself? What is your identity and drive?

A: Hello! Identity is a pretty huge landscape … I define myself as queer and non-binary but am trying to become more comfortable with showing instead of telling when it comes to that stuff, which I have done in the past. I make art, I photograph, I edit and I paint and I act sometimes, I think and I speak and I write. To be totally honest, I’m often driven by the many people who looked down on me or doubted my ability. People don’t want to admit it, but so many people are driven by resentment to some extent. I’m not really an exception. But also I’m very idealistic and feel like a teenager, so I inject a lot of (thoughtful) earnest-y into my work. I hope it comes off that way!

Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 4.44.07 pmp a i x jonno revanche collaboration with Oyster magazine

Q: Who inspires you? And what inspires your art?

A: I’m really generally inspired by people who have legitimately overcome struggle and aren’t just ex-private school graduates writing songs about their break-ups….but in all seriousness I’m pretty inspired by a lot really. It would be hard to pin down just a few sources. A lot of what I touch on in my work always comes back to histories of oppression and how many of the issues we’re confronting as a planet are delicately interconnected. I saw Anohni recently and was inspired by their show and their mission statement. How the issues of ecocide, indigenous genocide and displacement, transgender issues and women’s issues etc. are often perpetuated by the same systems.

So much of my inspiration comes from pop culture and “youth culture” just as much as it does alternative culture, but mostly the parts of all of those that champion emotional honesty and acceptance. I also think a common theme in my recent work at least is how humans are intrinsically defined by their physical location and culture that surrounds it, and how they’ve responded to that. A lot of my art seeks to work through “darkness” and all of its layers, and how the things we’re frightened of can actually be empowering to confront. This is coming from someone who was an emo ten years ago and will probably be a social worker ten years from now.

Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 4.44.27 pmp a i x jonno revanche collaboration with Oyster magazine

Q: Do you have a preferred medium?

A: Generally words are my medium but I really like the idea of being multi-disciplinary. Most people would recognise me by my photography and zine-making and although I’m happy for that to be a point of reference, I don’t really want to box myself in to one format too much!

Q: How would you describe your style?

A: Often comforting, often disquieting? ❤

 Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 4.44.44 pmAmy Louise for I-D, Styling + creative direction by Jonno and Amy

Q: Can you please describe your artistic and creative process i.e.: from the first lingering idea to putting it into practice?

A: It really depends but a lot of my ideas marinate in my head for a long time before they exit into the outside world. I’m working on an exhibition now that I first started thinking about three years ago. Some projects require more research and consideration than others, I find. Whereas sometimes I’ll come up with an idea on the bus or something and by the end of the trip I’ll have written out a one-thousand word essay or something. I find that it’s useful to be aware of how every process is different and has unique needs. Just like people!

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Jonno et al. by Agnieska Chabros for Novembre Magazine

Q: Where do you see your art practice taking you in the next five years?

A: I’ve been on a gradual but exciting path over the last two years (I would say) where my writing/photography/art etc. has become more visible in the public consciousness, by which I mean just in the very small eco-system of literary Australia and to some extent fashion. Optimally, I want to be using my art to explore issues that are important to both me, the world and my communities, and I hope, somewhat foolishly, that it will financially support me to some extent as well. It already is for the most part, which is a great surprise but to see that become more crystallised would be a huge privilege.

Q: If you could recommend one artist, who would it be?

A: Athena Thebus is my fave right now!

Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 4.49.32 pm‘At the Beach’ series of photographs by Alice Lukehurst featuring Gemma Cowling, @oblistique, Jonno Revanche for Refigural issue 7.

Q: What is your favourite gallery?

A: I feel pretty gallery illiterate and a bit locked out of that world to some extent, but I liked Constance Ari when I visited in Hobart, and I visited QAGOMA recently which I enjoyed. Sometimes I like enjoying art just for its surface value or emotional engagement when I visit these places, because although I was at university for five years and was certainly aware of the sociology behind that art, I really enjoy analysing something with the mind of a child.

Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 4.50.15 pmOuttake from Sara Jane Adams for I-D, photographed by Jonno Révanche

Q: Where can we find more of your work?

A: I’m still very faithful to tumblr but also have a very basic website where you can find my work!

 Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 4.50.02 pmOuttake from Sara Jane Adams for I-D, photographed by Jonno Révanche

Q: What is queerness to you? What would you say to struggling artists in the LGBT* community?

A: Queerness is different for everyone. It is a refusal to subscribe to overt patterns of heteronormativity and cis-normativity. It is directly challenging nuclear units of living, and the respectability politics of traditional LGBT movements. More powerfully, it is a space of sociality which does not necessarily define. The human experience is so complicated and I hope to recognise that by calling myself queer. I’m finding it more useful to sit in that space of unknowing, and to make myself at home there.

I would say this: making art about your identity may lead some people to reduce your art to a label, to denounce it, to not take it seriously for its subject matter. These are indications that you should keep going. Keep working on yourself as a human and try to speak truthfully to your experiences. Try to be ok with being imperfect and to be in the mindset of a perpetual beginner. Slowly approach that which makes you uncomfortable and scared. This is all advice I could start following myself as well!

– Dylan Rowen

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