forest vicky kapo , Ghosting the Queer, Queer
Pavilion, February 1, 2020, installation, photograph by
Ralph Brown, Rangipuke, Tāmaki Makaurau.
Queer Pavilion is a drifting structure for art, performance and conversation during the Auckland Pride Festival, February 1-5 & 7, 2020.
Taking place in Auckland’s Rangipuke (Albert Park) the site of country’s first public Gay Liberation protest in 1972.
Hosted by Richard Orjis.
kapo’s Ghosting the Queer confronted the intersection of environmental concern, colonisation and trans-homophobia.
The installation consisted of a smoke-machine, a single-channel video work and eight ready-made pink and navy blue umbrella clusters laid out over the park’s dry summer grass.
kapo’s video work depicted an undulating carpet of soft green coral swaying on the ocean floor. As carbon emissions warm the atmosphere and ocean temperature increase, one of the first casualties has been the sensitive biodiversity of coral reefs. As the algae which give coral their known as coral bleaching. kapo’s pink and navy blue umbrellas shift the visual representation of whiteness that is often associated with freshness, hygiene and purity to a critique of the legacy of the colonial-capitalist and heteronormative nexus.
Ghosting, in the language of social media is the act of cutting somebody off without an explanation or reason for their actions. In our current ecological moment, kapo’s title suggests that we are cutting off both the queer and the environment simultaneously.
The word ‘ghost’ drifted into English through Proto-Germanic roots, meaning breath or the spirit of angels, demons or human beings. Ghosts, like clouds, are nebulous, hovering and temporal, apparitions that momentarily appear and remain intangibly out of reach.
Untouchable shapes trailing out from kapo’s small portable smoke-machine connected to histories of diverse groupings of queer people that met in bars and nightclubs, veiled in hazy darkness. The haze also recalls the smoke of the devastating wild fires that were
concurrently taking place in kapo’s chosen home of Australia. Like the bleaching of the coral, the unprecedented fury and heat of the fires are a result of the legacy of coal and other fossil fuel extraction in an interconnected eco-system.
The work’s meagre puffs of smoke play antithetically to the grandeur of the English translation of ‘Aotearoa’ — The Land of the Long White Cloud. The country’s European name New Zealand is similarly fluid, an aqueous alias translated from Dutch origins meaning sea-land.