photo james farley

Scott Howie: Claimant
Wagga Wagga Art Gallery
August 31-November 2, 2019

“We’re all born naked / and the rest is drag” – rupaul

In an age of identity theft, identity politics, gender fluidity, imposter syndrome, finstas and rinstas, celebrity influencers, phishing, catfishing and fake news, there has never been an easier time to present yourself to the world as whoever you want to be, while simultaneously having no idea of who you are at all.

The disconnect between how we view ourselves, how we represent ourselves to others and how others view us creates a space where control is lost, resistance is possible and there are good times to be had … if you know who you want to be, have a safe space to explore it and a community to be part of.

If you call yourself something for long enough and other people call you it for long enough you might come to believe it whether it is true or not.

In 1845 a newspaper advertisement seeking news of Roger Tichborne prompted Wagga butcher Thomas Castro to imagine (or remember) his life as a member of the aristocracy and the great fortunes that were his to inherit. By all accounts the transition from Castro to Tichborne was a rough one, even with Tichborne’s mother’s claim that Castro was indeed her long lost son, not all were convinced.

Castro/Tichborne wound up in a bitter contest for the estate, a historic perjury trial, prison and a pauper’s grave … with the plaque on his coffin engraved: Roger Charles Tichborne

Claimant documents the artist’s attempts to understand the actions of Thomas Castro through a series of performances for camera.

Accompanying the  exhibition are:

September 12, 5:00pm Panel Discussion
Howie leads a discussion around his fascination with story, the artwork, performing identity and the ‘facts’ of the Tichborne Affair with the Museum of the Riverina’s Michelle Maddison and First nation’s Drag Entertainer Rose Quartz

October 12, 11:ooam Performance #1
In Which the Artist Reads The Entire Life and Full Confession of  Arthur Orton, the Tichborne Claimant /written by himself
In 1871 a London Weekly, ‘The People’ published the serialised confession of the Tichborne Claimant. Over the course of the day, the artist will read aloud the full document.

October 26, 10:00 am – 2:00 pm Performance #2
Tom’s Requiem
The artist invites you to join him in the Channel space for a few minutes to witness an intimate ritual offered for the repose of the soul of Tom Castro.

A limited edition zine will be available for purchase during the exhibition

this page: james t farley
featured image: self-portrait

download exhibition zine. originally published in hand-numbered edition of 50

download floorsheet accompanying tom’s requiem