19 May 2023

Canberrans invited to embody their Alter Ego at National Portrait Gallery night party

| Travis Radford
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Radha La Bia.

Diva from India Radha La Bia (Shahmen Suku) will host Alter Ego: An Evening of Other! Photo: Jess Gleeson.

Fresh off the back of Sydney WorldPride 2023, one of the advocates responsible for Australia winning the bid to host the global LGBT+ festival is bringing a new exclusive event to the capital.

Kat Dopper of Heaps Gay, Queer Agency and Summer Camp Festival fame is collaborating with the National Portrait Gallery to host a celebration and exploration of all things identity.

“We thought Alter Ego: An Evening of Other! was a really fun way to touch on the various parts of people’s identity,” Kat says.

“The way we mask our personalities or fun ways that we might show other sides of ourselves through drag or performance or art.

“We wanted to create an event that was all about creating a safe space for community, no matter who you are.”

Guests can also come dressed in their own alter ego or in something that shows a part of themselves they haven’t necessarily shown before.


Canberra-based multi-genre producer and artist Yiannis Nikodellis, also known as Yokelust, will perform at Alter Ego. Photo: Supplied.

A line-up of live musicians and performance artists will provide the soundtrack, including Canberra’s-own Yokelust (Yiannis Nikodellis), a queer, multi-genre producer and artist.

The evening also features performances by Radha La Bia, Betty Grumble, Marlena Dalí, DJing by Lupa J and Mowgli May and personalities from fashion, music, film and art.

“We wanted to touch on and showcase some of the amazing queer artists in Canberra and Sydney,” Kat says.

“Artists can meet other people and other artists. That could lead to collaborations and mentorships and things like that.”

Kat Dopper.

Heaps Gay founder Kat Dopper is curating and producing Alter Ego: An Evening of Other! Photo: Supplied.

Partygoers who arrive at 6:30 pm will have the opportunity to attend an after-hours viewing of the Portrait23: Identity exhibition and can also intensify their outfits before the party kicks off. The most extravagant “alter ego” of the night will receive a jumper featuring the art of Yankunytjatjara artist Kaylene Whisky, whose works are currently on display at the Portrait23 exhibition.

Guests of the 18+ event can also expect to experience art making, digital art and short screenings, as well as a bar and local food stalls as they party through to midnight.

Kat hopes to host more events like Alter Ego and Heaps Gay’s annual installation at Groovin the Moo in Canberra.

“It’s been on the cards for a while. It’s just with COVID, everything got put away to the wayside,” she says.

“So, we’re just finding our feet and working it out but that would be amazing.”

READ ALSO Things to do in Canberra this week (12 to 18 May)

Kat also has some recommendations for Canberrans who simply can’t wait until the next Heaps Gay collaboration comes to town.

“Radha, who’s the host of Alter Ego, is running events now at Sideway called Radha’s Verandah, so everybody needs to go and check out that show,” she says.

“There’s some really awesome crews doing stuff in Canberra too, the Phish and Phreak drag crew are really fun. There’s lots of cool stuff going on.”

Alter Ego: An Evening of Other! is on Friday 26 May, from 6:30 pm to 11:55 pm. For more information or to buy tickets ($33 to $45), visit the National Portrait Gallery’s website.

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