In the poem ‘For the Feral Splendor that Remains’, the queer American poet CAConrad writes, ‘in a future life / would we like to / fall in love with the / world as it is with / no recollection / of the beauty / we destroy / today’.
The Physics Room, in Ōtautahi Christchurch, has just presented the show For the Feral Splendour (29 January–6 March 2022), featuring works by three friends—Owen Connors and Aliyah Winter from Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, and Laura Duffy from Te Whanganui- a-Tara Wellington—whose works are informed by ideas of mysticism and healing, and by stories that can be at once frightening and liberating. The artists developed their works separately, but in conversation, tapping states of transformation, ecstasy, and queer bliss.
As the press release explains: ‘For the Feral Splendour suggests the motivation for doing something: making a sacrifice, stating an intention, offering a justification. It’s an incantation, or the response to a strange question.’ The works ‘engage with ideas about that which is natural, unnatural, supernatural, and the transformative potential of queer narratives that connect these things.’
Connors presents two egg-tempera paintings. One, featuring multiple self-portraits, refers to a childhood memory of his father recalling balancing on a felled log and leaping over a swung axe in feats of bravado. In the other, a scarred foot is haloed by the flare of the sun.
Winter’s textile banners are printed with images of the artist’s face and hands, starling wings, a crystal, a star, a luminous alien, and a Latin text that translates as ‘Do not speak of God without a light’. Duffy’s steel sculpture, meanwhile, stoops and crouches, bearing a translucent plate of plant matter, including gorse, thyme, dandelion, and gay flower, along with raspberry, dirt, and spit.
Header image: Laura Duffy, Fluffy, 2022, mixed media, 125 x 80 cm approx. Photo: Janneth Gil