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Artist profile: Paul Yore

Faggots come out and play! 

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Super queer funky punk artist Paul Yore holds no punches in his exhibition Word Made Flesh, writes Christos Linou.


‘Stronger Together’, a collaboration with Romance Was Born at ‘Word Made Flesh’, Carriageworks, Sydney 2023

In 2022, the Australian Centre of Contemporary Art commissioned Paul Yore to display his 15-year collection of tapestries and sculptures in a solo exhibition titled Word Made Flesh. The exhibition immerses visitors in an explosion of queer eroticism, philosophy, religion, politics, anarchy and consumer culture. Yore weaves elements of mythology, childhood fables, capitalism and anti-colonisation to provoke discussions around sexuality, body image and authority.

The manual labour involved is Yore’s art is monumental; he uses fabric, buttons, sequins, paint, plastic, felt, toys and dolls squirting wool from their genitals, alongside kinky images of politicians, celebrities and Royalty with erect penises and religious figureheads screaming: ‘God Hates Fags’. 

Despite his outwardly meek and handsome appearance, Yore’s work is a brazen display of provocative queer aesthetics that challenge societal taboos. His fearless approach is a slap in the face of the conservative establishment, making his work an uninhibited journey into the world of radical queer art.

Yore’s process involves selecting objects from thrift stores, akin to an archaeologist. By exploring cultural relevance through these items, he creates a laboratory of embodied experimentation that rethinks the value of discarded materials. Disparate objects and materials are united through anarchy and chaos into beautiful works of art to depict Yore’s epistemology of society up shit creek. 


Christos Linou: When I saw your exhibition I felt erotically aroused and overwhelmed by the sheer scale, complexity and detail in your work. Have you ever wondered if people come away feeling sexually stimulated or shocked?

Paul Yore: I wouldn’t say I am necessarily trying to elicit a particular response – rather I am trying to capture an ambience or mood. The viewer response to the work is very subject and particular to each viewer and cannot be predetermined.

‘Fuck Pragmatism’, mixed media assemblage, 2023

Your works have elements of sin, confession and redemption with blasphemous overtones, especially the space that resembled a cruising room and church altar leading to a crudely made crucifix with the word ‘FAG’ over a Christ figure. Was this installation about your religious upbringing?

My works draw from my experiences growing up in a Catholic household and being subjected to the Catholic education system. Neither of these contexts provided any elucidation of queer sexuality that I could use to navigate my burgeoning identity. As a result, I had to create my own understanding of sexuality and these shaped the way I make my work today; as a kind of collage from multiple sources, filtered through my own idiosyncratic lens of personal experience. Whilst some of it may be read as a protest or quite loaded subject matter, I treat Christian symbology and themes in my work as I would any other found material: available for reconfiguration in the context of an artwork.

Are you concerned that your artwork might ignite a protest, such as when protestors damaged Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ work at the NGV in 1997? Have you wondered that your work may also cause riots where your tapestries are damaged by a raging mob?

I have already experienced my work being destroyed by protestors and law-enforcement. Sadly, this is simply part of the risks of creating queer and politically-charged artwork in a social context still dogged by small-minded bigotry. 

Some social beliefs still see sewing as a ‘feminine’ activity. How do you feel about gender stereotypes when you sew? 

I think sewing, textiles and craftwork more generally are rich sites for the interplay of gender, queerness and performativity. I see this as part of my work. Although historically speaking, the stereotype of needlecraft as the domain of women is a very limited one. For example, medieval tapestry workshops were dominated by men as it was seen as physically demanding work unsuited for women. Male sailors used to mend their sails with a thread and needle and male POW’s used to sew and embroider during wartime.

How do you heal your hands and body after making large-scale works?

I have suffered many self-inflicted injuries whilst sewing and embroidering as I am self-taught and still very clumsy with the tools of my trade. I have dealt with many pinpricks but I would have to say the RSI (repetitive strain injuries) are worse and can be quite debilitating. I like to take long periods off working if I have been working on a large piece and also make sure I do lots of holistic physical activity. 

‘Lest We Faggot, mixed media textile applique, 2023

Some of your work makes me think of 1950’s pop artist Richard Hamilton’s homoerotic collages, which seem naive and innocent compared to your sexually charged pop art punk imagery. Have queer artists influenced your work?

The history of queer art is hugely influential for me; a well-spring to constantly draw from and go back to. Queer imagery can be discovered going back to ancient sources and is near-universal in human cultures, so there is always more to uncover. I think the punk art movement and its Dadaist and pop-art antecedents have also been hugely influential so I am always trying to find new modes of disruption and dissent in my work. 

The word is God and God made the flesh.. How does your flesh feel during the embodiment of making art with religious thoughts of sin and saviour weaving through your mind?

It is tempting to see artmaking as primarily an intellectual pursuit but for me it is largely about emotionality and feeling, especially with textiles. It requires the more intuitive and esoteric intelligence of the hands, about touching and processing materials and making sense of the world through making. 

Your book is magnificent and covers the exhibition in stunning detail, where can readers buy a copy? 

The monographic publication was published jointly by Art Ink and ACCA and came about to document not only the survey show at ACCA but also the broader 15 years of my practice and create a discursive framework for the artworks. It is available through Art Ink Publishing: