Kegan McFadden


January 7 – 22, 2023

Artist talk: Sunday, January 22, 2023 at 2 p.m.

Historian is a direct reference to the work, Remembering Names, by the late conceptual artist Garry Neill Kennedy (1935-2021), where he attempted to recall the names of each person he had met throughout his life and to create that into an artwork. First performed in the 1960s, with other iterations over the decades, this project culminated in the opus where Kennedy attempted to recall the names of everyone in his memory while in the midst of decline stemming from dementia. This rearticulation of Kennedy’s performance/installation is made queer by focusing specifically on the names of men McFadden has been with sexually. This filtering through a sexual lens also places Historian in reference to the noted UK artist Tracey Emin and her work, Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963-1995, which takes the form of a pop tent festooned with appliqued letters spelling out the names of sexual, as well as platonic or familial bedmates. McFadden’s installation will be a colourful mashing together of what Kennedy did and Emin refocused, but it is specific to his own time in Victoria.

The act of physically writing the names of these men on the wall is meant to conflate memorializing, graffiti, and a temporary archive as a queer portrait of the artist’s life in Victoria to-date.

About the Artist

Kegan McFadden came to making art through the study of literature, history, and exhibition practice. Working with memory, text, and modest tools of production, his art practice is a visual representation of his queer experience. The question that propels his artistic exploration is rooted in queer phenomenology, or how we move through time and space differently depending on our lived experience. He interrogates the possibilities (and limitations) of memory through lists, essays, poems, and bookworks as a way of taking stock of his experience has a queer person. He does not have a studio practice, and his simplified means of production are purposely meant to destabilize heteronormative hegemonies and gendered hierarchies in the art world (i.e., he chooses pastel chalk over oil paint, recycled soft materials over elaborate structures, performance over plein air, and bookworks over bronze, etc.)

Xchanges gratefully acknowledges the support of the Province of British Columbia and the Capital Regional District for our gallery programs.

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