Testing Grounds

Art Guide Issue 141, Australia, 2023

Contribution alongside Bonita Ely, David Chesworth, Kenny Pittock, and Michael Lindeman.

A NIGHT IN HELL, with background by Melissa Deerson. Photograph by Keelan O’Hehir.

One of my ‘signature moves’ is to consider the social coding of my position in the arts and upset its meaning within a virtue economy. In other words, I am very sarcastic. Mel Deerson, after an original commission by the online platform Recess, helped me develop this sensibility in 2019, when she asked me to participate in A night in Hell, a public program to her show A show about hell at Kings ARI. She curated a series of performances to activate this huge medieval backdrop of hers like a stage. It is Deerson’s angelical pattern to appear every couple of years in my life with grassroots energy. Then momentarily disappear to become the light in someone else’s dark world. Thanks to her appreciation, I performed Once More, With Diversity Feeling, an ‘audition’ for a Mexican vampire in the canned Buffy The Vampire Slayer reboot, which was mediatised as emphasising diversity. Inspired by novelty acts, I sang pitchy songs with over the top lyrics—like a goth softboi—hoping to get ‘casted’. The audience wanted to laugh at me but didn’t want to be ‘problematic’. This kind of perverse tension is now a staple in the push and pull that characterises my output.  
Ramirez acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the Land where he lives and works, the Wurundjeri people. He pays his respects to Elders past, present and emerging of the Kulin Nation.