Tino La Bamba and Platanito make it to Lismore.
Tino La Bamba and Platanito make it to Lismore.

Latex and sweat for art's sake

PERFORMANCE artist Mark Shorter slipped into his blue latex suit and into his character Tino La Bamba in Sydney on December 5. He then rode 859 kilometres to Lismore on his trusty motorised bicycle Platanito to be part of an exhibition called I am the Message.

Tino said his journey began to avenge the honour of his brother Rafito, who was violently compromised by a local rugby league team.

“I wanted to kill these people, but in a civilised society that is not appropriate. So I decided to undertake a symbolic voyage,” he said.

The journey took him through Wollomi, Singleton, Tamworth, Armidale, Glen Innes and Tenterfield before arriving in Lismore on Monday. Along the way he rode through the streets of Casino with a bunch of disaffected youths, was attacked by dogs, stopped by police and chased by cows. He conquered the Great Dividing Range and re-emerged as Tino ‘Thunderbolt’ La Bamba after the famous bushranger Captain Thunderbolt.

Tino speaks in broken English with a Spanish accent and rides through the countryside as a misfit in an outrageous suit, turning heads wherever he goes.

“I have decided to turn the highway into my stage for a burlesque extravaganza,” he said.

There were some mechanical problems with Platanito and an unfathomable amount of sweat generated by wearing a full body latex suit in the searing heat.

“Sometimes I don’t know where all the sweat comes from,” he said. “The suit is designed to withstand all temperatures and yes it does keep the heat in, but it also keeps the sun out.”

Tino’s blog and photos of his journey can be viewed at his website www.tinolabamba.com.

According to curator Kezia Geddes, I am the Message is all about artists who use themselves as the concept, the medium and the content of their work.

“The themes explored in the exhibition exist in our everyday lives. They include role-play, personality, celebrity, relationships, and questions surrounding self, social norms and the desire to fit in,” she said. “Cloaked in alter egos, costumes or by placing themselves in preconceived situations, the artists act out their ideas and turn the mirror back at us. Far from being narcissistic or just pleasing themselves, they work to provoke the audience to reconsider their world views.”

Tino will be joined by other performance artists including Vanessa Wagner and Pope Alice when the exhibition opens at theLismore Regional Gallery this Friday, December 18, from 5.30pm. The exhibition continues until February 13.


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