St. John’s, NL
Armpit 1 (2019)
archival fabric print, 47” x 59”
Back 2 (2018)
archival fabric print, 47” x 59”
Armpit 1, 2019
(installation view, Arsenal Contemporary, 2020).
Photo: Alexandra Votsis, Courtesy of Arsenal Contemporary.
archival fabric print, 39” x 59”
In a Queer Time and Body
by Ricky Varghese
Psychoanalysis tells us that the unconscious knows no time. There is no distinction between the past, the present, or the future in it. It is a veritable blank slate in the truest sense, inscribed only by experience and uncatalogued by the restless vagaries of time. Conversely, the body, in all its interiority and exteriority, is the slate of time par excellence. The American writer Don DeLillo once wrote: “Time binds itself to aging flesh.” The body is a clock, ticking ever so turgidly toward a destiny whose only promise appears to be decay and death.
What then, to make of the queer body within such a time that appears only to progress toward this body’s inevitable finitude? Queer time means a time that is anything but linear, outside of any normative sense of time which is often delimited by reproductive heterosexuality. There are many ways to queer time. The history of AIDS, for instance, queered the time of sex and sexuality for queer-identified men by reconstituting how we came to perceive our bodies against a backdrop of unaccountable loss. There are still other ways, as Nicholas Aiden seems to suggest, to queer time.
Here you find the body fragmented and held at a standstill. In today’s app-saturated culture, where the question of beauty is answered through a body presented as a unified whole, Aiden presents an alternate vision of the body and its beauty. Presented in parts, its surface is treated like a textured landscape, its nooks and crannies presented as placeholders of and for intimate memory. One might argue that photography as a medium is itself queer. French philosopher Jacques Derrida suggested about photography, that “[it] not only ‘gives to be seen’ what exists, photography invents.” In a sense, here, Aiden invents a new language for beauty itself.
Dutifully using photographic grandeur, Nicholas Aiden conjures the faceless romance of sensuality to entangle the visual modelling of persona with tender queer intimacy. Originally from St. John’s NL, they hold a BFA in Photography from OCAD University. Their work has been exhibited across Canada in galleries such as The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery, the Confederation Centre Art Gallery, and the Art Gallery of Hamilton. Their work has graced publications produced by the San Francisco MOMA, the Madeleine Co., and Mireille Eagan. In 2019, they were longlisted for the Scotiabank New Generation Photography Award. In aid of their practice, they have graciously received support from ArtsNL.
Ricky Varghese is an art writer and psychotherapist based in Toronto. His writings have appeared in Canadian Art, C Magazine, Modern Horizons, Art Asia Pacific and esse arts + opinions, and he is an associate editor for Drain: A Journal of Contemporary Art and Culture. He holds a PhD in Sociology of Education from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, and he is the current Tanis Doe Post-Doctoral Fellow in Gender, Disability, and Social Justice at Ryerson University (2020-2022). He is also currently completing his training to become a psychoanalyst at the Toronto Institute of Psychoanalysis.
DOWNLOAD EXHIBITION TEXTS
Each artist was invited to choose a writer to respond to their work included in the exhibition, or in a few cases, the curator suggested a writer for them. All of these collected essays can be downloaded as a PDF document here.