Twenty years in the making, The Oscar Wilde Temple is a wholly immersive work of art and secular space honouring one of the earliest forebears of gay liberation whilst commemorating contemporary LGBTQ+ martyrs and those lost to the AIDS crisis.
This will be the first–ever institutional exhibition of McDermott & McGough’s work in the UK and will provide audiences with an important opportunity to experience the artists’ groundbreaking work first–hand.
For this major new commission, the most ambitious in Studio Voltaire’s history, the entirety of the gallery, a Victorian former chapel, will be dramatically transformed to create an environment that wholly celebrates the Irish poet and author. Period wallpaper, stained glass windows, hangings and 19th century chandeliers and furniture adorn the space, evoking the provocative sensuousness of the Aesthetic Movement.
The Oscar Wilde Temple will be free and open to the public for six months – to all faiths and non–believers alike. Individuals and families will be welcomed into The Oscar Wilde Temple for private reflection as well as to celebrate LGBTQ+ marriages, naming ceremonies, vow renewals, memorials and markings of other important occasions.
The Oscar Wilde Temple will provide an extraordinary experience to visitors as well as being a functional safe space.
A wide–reaching Participation Programme in partnership with national LGBT youth homelessness charity The Albert Kennedy Trust, will offer a six month programme of workshops, events, mentoring and professional development for their young people, in partnership with leading artists, writers and designers.
McDermott & McGough use the lens of Wilde’s legacy to make visible the traumatic history of queer identity while directly addressing the continuing inequalities faced by LGBTQ+ communities. The artists’ 30–year practice has engaged with issues surrounding queer identity since the early 1980s. Their work frequently addresses the homoerotic aspects of Victorian culture, while simultaneously acknowledging the oppressive politics of the period.
David McDermott (1952) and Peter McGough (1958) have worked collaboratively since 1980, achieving notoriety in the bohemian downtown quarters of New York with their performative ‘time machine’ experiments. This all encompassing gesamtkunstwerk saw their dress, home, and art studios (down to the materials and techniques they deployed) remain strictly faithful to late 19th and early 20th centuries. By refusing the contemporary present in favour of fabricating their own queer version of the past, McDermott & McGough asserted a revolutionary queer agency well ahead of their time. Their practice is a singular and prescient voice among the numerous politicised and activist artists that emerged into the mainstream during the AIDS crisis.
The Oscar Wilde Temple is on at Studio Voltaire, 1A Nelson’s Row, SW4 7JR from 3 October 2018–31 March 2019. Times: Wednesday – Sunday 12 – 6pm. Phone 0207 622 1294