In Please don’t spit in my garden, Bryan Martello explores themes of queer generativity, paternal instincts, indulgence, and aging through the construction of a makeshift garden. His garden acts as a queer space of opportunity where heteronormative standards are suspended and hierarchies dismantled. The work thinks of alternative ways to continue a lineage and prevent it from being lost. Fluctuating between different modes of representation: installation, photography, found objects, and debris, the work creates its own formula and then contradicts it. The garden simultaneously attracts and invites pleasure as it repulses and denies. Seeking to reconcile gay identity, Martello rethinks the way gay people are seen as virtuous, frivolous, apathetic, or selfish in connection with wealth, indulgence and self-care. Using the camera as an elevating force and a means of limitless reproduction, subjects are transformed through the lens. Elaborately costumed and adorned, ordinary things are transformed into almost alien, impenetrable mysteries, gaining new meanings and connotations. By manipulating, disguising, and combining everyday objects, the garden creates queer spaces where inherent value is reconsidered and the synthetic and decadent are valorized, embracing the abject and ostracized in a playful way. This work thinks critically about the line between self-care and extravagant pampering. Many products associated with self-care can be hazardous to the body and the environment, items such as: health and beauty supplies, disposable take-out food containers, and fast fashion. The garden takes pleasure in the immediate joys of the disposable and synthetic without anxiety of its toxic consequences. It differentiates giving up from giving in and making the best of what you have, and accepting failure.
Please don't spit in my garden is the fourth show in the NARS Spotlight Series, a series of solo exhibitions by artists who are part of the NARS community.