Historically the notion of the male gaze refers to the sexualised objectification of a bodily form (usually female) which is displayed, paraded, and performed for the desire of the dominant male voyeur. The Raymond Revue bar (site of this performance) was for many years the only venue in London that allowed full-frontal nudity of female dancers, whose performances were often staged for this male gaze. Duong’s performance seeks to challenge this gaze by inverting the perspective onto the audience. By way of a mirror, the viewers become objectified and confronts the fact that, as part of an audience, they are themselves seen by others. The result is to encourage the viewers to consider the potential revelation of their own private thoughts in this public space. This performance is part of the artist’s broader concern with the topic of identity. Duong identifies as a gay Asian male. This piece interrogates the issues of the male gaze from the perspective of an identity that is both ethnocultural (Asian) and based on sexual orientation (gay man).
Coming out is a very personal process and different for everyone. Duong recites “I didn’t come out until 28 years old and didn’t tell my parents until I was 32 (still to date the most difficult thing I’ve had to do in my life). To come this far in my life - be exposed and show the world one’s vulnerability – is a real testament to the love and support of people I surround myself with. But not everyone is fortunate to have this community support. The broader queer theory term not only tackles issues that the LGBTQ+ community faces, but also encompasses racial and religious discrimination. It’s important that we show and give courage to those who need our strength.”