I am a painter. I am Zoe Avery Nelson. I built a series of paintings around constructing a body that more accurately resembles the fluidly gendered body that I inhabit. As I worked on this series, I started to dance. To dance is to feel the presence of time. To be clear, this is a show about and of paintings. I am a painter. I am Zoe Avery Nelson. And I also dance. From these paintings, I found Avery, or rather, Avery found me on the dance floor, and I found Avery through painting. At first, Avery was fragmented and found in moments of slippage, or referenced through an object of desire or ambiguity. As I started dancing, the distances between myself and Avery – between fantasy and lived experience – stared to decrease. The distances between the fragmented sections of a painting started to decrease as well. That is how Avery emerged. To be clear, there is nothing linear nor exhaustible about this sequence. This collapse of self and other can only be found in motion, and therefore must be lost and found again and again. And I invite you to look, as I paint and live this process.
In a series that explores the temporality of inhabiting/being a body, Zoe Avery Nelson’s work moves within and outside the symbolic, through fragmentation, contradiction, and tension. A structured tension of desire and absence – desire for a form of the body that would be fluid and habitable – yields to a movement in which anything can become any other body part. Yet the form of a body is also always an imagined thing; it is in and as fantasy (and painting), that the desiring body is apprehended and lived.