Photograph of performer swallowing sword in front of a starry curtain 

Ray COOK (1962)
Pixie, 2007
giclee print
Purchased from the artist, 2008
© The Artist


Influential photographic artist Ray Cook produces works that are highly theatrical, appearing as staged scenarios in a hybrid of performance and still photography.1 Primarily concerned with mortality, loss of control, and the way gender and sexuality is interpreted and communicated by the media, Cook sets tableaus that play out his darkly humorous take on life as a homosexual photographic artist. In this work, Pixie, a gay clown in singlet and braces is pictured swallowing a sword to the hilt against frowsy curtains appliqu├ęd with red stars. Shrouded in circus props, the clown is encapsulated with just a hint of colour referencing Cook's interest in sub-cultural identity and the impact of consumerism and commodification on that identity.

1.  Ray Cook, 2002, 'Ray Cook', Artlink, vol. 22, no. 1.