Taking cues from the AIDS Memorial Quilts and queer barebacking fetish communities, CRUDO OR PERILESS MIGHT explores the impact of recent medical developments in treatment and prevention on the bodies, languages and sexual imaging of those living with HIV.
With spectral and fractured poems stitched to textiles to produce fleshy and optically elusive quilts, this exhibition reimagines queer modes of making and expressions of mourning to reclaim the ‘positive’ body and its transcendence through survival. The works take linguistic cues from the poetic logics of pharmaceutical nomenclature, drawing upon the techniques deployed by pharmaceutical branding consultancy Ixxéo – sound association, melodic contrast, verbal velocity, the mixing of ‘morphological elements derived from roots and word patterns across languages’ – to compose incantations which are at times lucid, at others unyielding. These works give form to alternative modes of meaning making attuned to the realities of a compromised immune system – playing upon the ways HIV produces non-normative communicative patterns at a cellular level.
Presented alongside these quilts are a series of painting that explore further the codified languages of handkerchiefs and tattoos particular to queer history and experience. Freshly tattooed biohazard symbols and venomous insects decorate badly lit fragments of bodies, juxtaposing these poetic quilts with missives marked on bodies to explore how the invisible is made material.
In association with the exhibition, MEANWHILE hosted a visit to the New Zealand AIDS Memorial Quilt, held by Te Papa. We are grateful to Stephanie Gibson and the collections team at Te Papa for their generosity and support with this public programme.
Owen Connors is an artist and writer currently based in Tāmaki Makaurau. Recent exhibitions include Under Your Skin You Look Devine, Basement Adult Store and Sex Club, Tāmaki Makaurau; I hate you, I hate you, I hate you; I hate you because I love you, Various locations, Tāmaki Makaurau; New Perspectives, Artspace, Tāmaki Makaurau. He facilitated the reading series FUCK ME: Sex Under Capitalism and is currently co-editor of hard press, a publishing house focusing on experimental poetry.