Dream of the Shore Near Another World, a title borrowed from the name of a song composed by Yasunori Mitsuda, appears on the soundtrack to the 1999 video game Chrono Cross. In the Playstation game, the shore acts as the portal between one reality and another. Like the protagonist of the game, artist Avery Noyes was born and raised on a shore, the Eastern Shore of Maryland on the Chesapeake Bay. The works in the exhibition draw from the artist’s relationship with both the natural setting of his seaside home, and the fantastical worlds of the video games, comics, and anime stories of his childhood.
The artist’s connection to the Bay is an intrinsic part of his identity, both as an artist and as a queer man. References are made throughout this show to the sailing lifestyle he grew up in, his father working as a boat builder in the early years of the artist’s life. Artifacts of local maritime culture underline his experience in small-town America – surrounded by an overtly masculine, heteronormative, and working-class society that was often a source of alienation and disconnection. Video games, comics, anime, and the artist’s own fantasies became ways to cope as an effeminate child and teen discovering and exploring his identity. The Shore itself became a haven to explore and escape, to become someone else, or something else entirely; a Nereid, a mermaid, Yuna at The Sending.
After spending nearly a decade in New York City, the artist returned to the Eastern Shore in 2017 for a year to live and work, reflecting on the nature he grew up around and within, returning to memories both fond and painful. Inspiration was drawn from this time back on The Shore: a vastly different and separate world from the city that he called home for the past decade, yet familiar and comforting as his childhood home. Memories and experiences crystallized into a new understanding of his birthplace, and a newfound appreciation was felt for the rites of The Shore.
In this exhibition, fragments of the artist’s childhood are brought to the surface, with memories inscribed upon them as a small glimpse into another world. A sail becomes a message, the boat sling of a travel lift offers a story but omits the details. Male bonds are brought forth, both familial and romantic. Watery images of gay intimacy and desire are displayed – scenes from a game or animation that never existed (but might in another life). Sea creatures and artifacts are reimagined as treasures and monsters one would find in the realms of games like Final Fantasy. A photographic portrait of a child is obscured behind water extracted and frozen in time. Throughout the exhibition, magic and memory blend together with written word, an archaeology of personal history is unearthed to reveal a story, an intimate portrait of boyhood and self-discovery.
Avery Noyes, b. 1991, attended the School of Visual Arts in New York City, graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2015. His practice mines the digital landscape for iconic themes that are translated into works that deal with eroticism, escapism, and identity within the rural American working class. He has shown in group exhibitions across Brooklyn and Queens such as "The Generation of Choice” at Gern en Regalia (2018) and “Romancing Gaming: A Remix of Aesthetic Forms and Their Opposites” at Roche-Adachi Gallery (2017). This is his first solo exhibition in London.