There is an inherent heartbreak that often comes with queer temporality — a progression of life different to the cisgendered, heterosexual experience. Amongst the too-fast and the too-slow, the uneven and the non-linear, being queer can prove uniquely isolating. In spite of such isolation, moments of warmth, community and liberation can be found in abundance within. Love Letters to the Horizon is an exhibition that honours such moments, found in the Wentworth Building’s SCASS Backspace.
Love Letters to the Horizon is the latest Offsite pop-up exhibition run by Kudos Gallery, a UNSW Art and Design initiative overseen by ARC UNSW. Curated by UNSW Art and Design students Joshua Di Mattina-Beven and Ava Lacoon, Love Letters to the Horizon features diverse works from ten artists, centred around themes of queer belonging, love and comfort.
The exhibit’s opening night on Thursday 9 June attracted certainly the most people Wentworth Level 3 has ever seen. The popularity of the exhibit’s opening night made for an energetic event, set to live music by K L Mai (Brigitte Podrasky). A highlight of the night was a live poetry performance by Rat Bedlington connected to their piece The Votive Crown, both of which emerged as highlights of the exhibition. Bedlington’s work The Black and Stupefying Sea is notably a finalist entry in this year’s Sulman Prize.
Although postponed due to COVID lockdowns, Love Letters to the Horizon was initially pitched to Kudos in 2021 by the Love Club, an artist collective consisting of Lacoon, Di Mattina-Beven, and Kieran Butler. It existed in the interim as The Love Letters Archive, an online interactive project. The core of the project was preserved throughout its evolution, with a station set up in the middle of the gallery at which guests are encouraged to write letters to their past, present or future selves.
Another stand-out work was trans artist Samuel Luke Beatty’s Tomboyhood: A Collection, an ongoing piece chronicling and celebrating moments from his childhood of queer becoming. The story told by Tomboyhood is, as characterised by Beatty, an “almost boyhood”, punctuated with moments of naive queer authenticity. Tomboyhood exemplifies the comfort to be found in queer temporality, echoed through the bright, childlike and undeniably beautiful visual aesthetic carried throughout the exhibition.
Love Letters to the Horizon is, in its unguarded celebration of queer journies, a tender assertion of radical intersectional politics. The erotic religious images of Kanha ki Raas Leela by Lingam Brown are the first thing to catch your eye as you enter the gallery, embroidered on long, bright sheets of billowing silk. Brown writes that he uses “self portraiture to enter Indian history and queer religious bodies using [his] own” in a meditation on his intertwined experiences of religion and sexuality.
Risako Katsumata’s Unfit, Ander and Ander’s Garden are an exploration of safety and belonging, as well as of how layers of intersectional identity serve to distance one from them. Katsumata’s works, a video installation accompanied by photographic portraits, depict safety and belonging as further beyond reach with each barrier placed in one’s way, whether race, sexuality, neurodiversity or any identity othered by social forces.
Love Letters to the Horizon teaches us the importance of licking our wounds and taking stock, even if just for a brief pause, of the moments that have shaped us and sustained us. The exhibition is important for the stories it tells of the journey towards belonging, within oneself and within community, and an enjoyable and deeply worthwhile experience for the earnest joy with which those stories are told.
Love Letters to the Horizon will be exhibited in the SCA Backspace Gallery until 30 June.