TABOO(BZ)

two/fiftyseven, 2/57 Willis Street (entrance located at 70 Victoria Street), Wellington

27/02/2023 - 04/03/2023

NZ Fringe Festival 2023

Production Details


GABBYCRAFTYCLARK


Body positive art with (fruit) punch!

Why are we so afraid of our bodies? Through a trans artist’s eyes, TABOO(BZ) explores this using explosively vibrant oil colours, comparing human anatomy to the simple beauty of nature.

Join in on this joyful (+ sometimes scary) reclamation of ownership!

two/fiftyseven, 2/57 Willis Street, Wellington
Monday 27 February – Saturday 4 March 2023
6pm
BOOK

Content forecast: Sexual Abuse, Misogyny, Transphobic Language



Film , LGBTQIA+ , Performance Art , Theatre ,


1 hr

Challenging, inspiring, easy to love

Review by Wesley Hollis 28th Feb 2023

Body image is something everybody struggles with from time to time. It seems society, or even people close to us, are always telling us how to feel about the way we look and what to change. TABOO(BZ) is an art exhibition and Fringe show by trans artist Gabby Clark that challenges these societal expectations and teaches a powerful message about self-love.

On a Monday evening, I have the pleasure of attending the launch of the exhibition. The atmosphere is relaxing – there’s low lighting, couches and cushions to sit on, and gentle music playing. There is no stage here. When Gabby arrives to talk to us about his exhibit, the artist and the audience share a space providing an intimate setting.

Gabby kicks off the evening with an original song, accompanying himself on the ukulele. He is an easy performer to love, full of smiles and laughter, and he encourages us to start singing along once we know the chorus.

After the song, Gabby tells us stories about his life, particularly about his experiences as a teenager that shaped much of his art. There are some darker moments – he talks about having been in an abusive relationship, toxic friendships, and the pressure and rigidity that comes with growing up in a Christian household.

As he was coming to terms with being trans, he also experienced a lot of internalised transphobia. But there is a hopeful side to his story. Ultimately, this is the story of someone ridding themselves of toxic relationships and world views and coming to love and accept themselves for who they are. 

The exhibition itself is personal and intimate. Rather than large studio pieces, these are smaller works presented in an eclectic mix of media. The artist uses oil paints, pen, card, note paper, canvas, photography, clothing and more. Some pieces you are even encouraged to touch (gently) or interact with. Much of the art is accompanied by poetry, prose, quotations, or hidden words within the piece. This is written in a stream-of-consciousness, journalistic style and helps to let us know what Gabby was thinking as he created the work. 

Gabby explores the beauty of so-called ugly things, such as misshapen fruit, as well as the imperfection of the human body. His work shows that beauty can shine through, even when appearances might not meet conventional beauty standards. The work contains influences from other artists, such as Georgia O’Keeffe, especially evident in some of his floral pieces. It is interesting to view the progression of the way he approaches art, from his early oil painting pieces to his latest pieces made with clothing.

This exhibition will challenge you. Some of the work contains explicit nudity, or references to dark thinking and negativity. The work will also challenge the way you think about self-image, and the images of others. What is a beautiful body? What is a trans person supposed to look like? Am I acceptable? But above all else, the exhibition teaches a lot about love and body confidence. Gabby’s hard-won love for himself, which is so evident throughout his work, truly is infectious.

I would recommend this exhibit for all lovers of multi-media art, especially if you enjoy art that has a lesson to teach and a message to convey. This will especially appeal to people who identify as trans and queer, as a big part of this exhibition is embracing one’s gender identity and sexuality. I defy anyone to view this exhibition and not come away inspired to create art of their own.   After being taken on an emotional rollercoaster, I leave the show feeling lighter. At the beginning of the show Gabby mentions that while the show can go to some dark places, he hopes that through his brain you can find some love and light as well. I certainly did. And I’m sure you will too.

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