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The Midnight Shift: Nikos Pantazopoulos

The midnight shift 2020
HD video, stereo, 3:54 minutes. Animation: Dalton Stewart; Sound: Jonny Seymour
Commissioned by UNSW Galleries with the support of the Australia Council for the Arts
Courtesy of the artist and Kalli Rolfe Contemporary Art, Melbourne

In 'The midnight shift', Nikos Pantazopoulos looks back at archives and through speculation and conversation with his collaborators, proposes a queer future space imagined through memory and technology. The work draws from recollections and the initial architectural plans for the Oxford Street nightclub The Midnight Shift which closed after 25 years in October 2017. A casualty of Sydney’s gentrification and lockout laws, it had previously been an integral meeting space for the gay community. The speculative interiors featured in the video are informed by the Klima (atmosphere) described by self-taught artist and architect Raymond Chai whose work was installed at the venue. Pantazopoulos bought two of Chai’s paintings from 1997 when the venue closed down, and here they function as a trigger for his continuing interests in queering architecture and design. In an interview with the artist, Chai noted “my art is about my experience and journey around Oxford Street. I use imagination through my experience and my memories.” Other references used by the artist in developing these interior spaces include leather and chrome details in the work of Tom of Finland; paintings by RB Kitaj and Paul Cadmus; and a final dance hall based on the artist’s own experience of club lighting and the form-making light installations of Anthony McCall.

Nikos Pantazopoulos is an artist exploring LGBTQI+ politics through an immigrant cis-gender gay male lens. His work remediates art history and popular narratives that are influenced by hegemonic culture. Pantazopoulos’ current research is engaged in Ancient Greek legacies and its influences on Modernism, Minimalism, relational, outsider art activities, and on labour and its economic values in our society. His use of materials critiques the classical traditions of the arts to repurpose them through a photographic data and technologically driven lens.