Zahra Stardust’s literal body of work examines sexuality, the body and intimacy through film, photography, performance and installation. An interdisciplinary artist, she enjoys creating work that is collaborative, participatory, interactive and uses her body as a canvas.
Beginning as a life drawing model at Julian Ashton Art School, Zahra’s own practice is informed by a decade working in stage and aerial performance and a wish to explore vulnerability, deconstruct economies of desire, and find human connection in a technological, capitalist world.
Enjoying body fluids, spillage and the abject out of place, Zahra collected her own ejaculate in a perfume bottle for display and sample called Eau de Vagin. She created ‘his’ and ‘her’ labia kisses with Jinx Badlands, printed on paper with lipstick and depicting the fine delicate detail of labia tissue. Zahra posted photos consuming her own menstrual blood, squeezed from a tampon, as part of the #livetweetyourperiod campaign, aiming to combat shame associated with menstrual blood. Recently, she documented the process of injecting donor sperm into her cervix via a syringe, and invited audiences to view photographs of the procedure through a live sex peepshow as part of Queering the Maternal. She has also exhibited photos of her body marked up for incision, pre-surgery.
Zahra has had her pink bits photographed for various projects showcasing vulva diversity. Her collaboration for Slit Magazine, Fear of a Barbie Planet, explored Barbie’s queer potential, using her as a dildo. Belinda Mason’s 3D lenticular photograph of Zahra with her pole, despite its accompanying text about strength and community, was banned from the Casula Powerhouse Women in Sport exhibition exploring gender in sport.
Zahra appears in Lyndal Irons’ tribute piece The Last Dance, documenting the closure and gentrification of the Oxford Tavern, an iconic striptease venue for three decades. She has also contributed to an endurance piece in art gallery windows for sex worker performance collective Debby Doesn’t Do It For Free, protesting raids and closure of sex worker windows in Amsterdam. Whilst in London, Zahra collaborated with Suelan Allison to take nude photographs outside UK Parliament House with a sign reading ‘decriminalise my vagina’ for a human rights photography exhibition (before being moved on by police).
At the International AIDS Conference, Scarlet Alliance set up a photo booth with a life sized picture of Zahra saying ‘Decriminalize Sex Work!’ that politicians, health sector and community members could pose with to support sex worker rights.
Zahra has spoken on artist panels and exhibition openings, including ACON’s Sex Art Desire (with Inked Kenny and Steven Kavanagh), This is Not Art’s Critical Animals (with Emma Maye Gibson, Charlotte Farrell and Krissy Kneen), and the Next Wave Festival in Melbourne, and launched Ben McGee’s Crowning Miss Nude Australia photo exhibition at Tap Gallery as part of the Head On photography festival.