Medium: Bedsheets, onion skin dye, salvaged fabric scraps, antique doilies, knitting needle, eyelets, torn fusing tape, embroidery threads, transfer prints, foam
Louie Zalk-Neale (Ngāi Te Rangi, Pākehā) is a queer artist based in Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington, originally from Hokitika. Louie grounds their practice in bodily adornment created from found materials, making reference to clothing while inviting adaptive usage. By activating these materials in interactive performances and re-imagining them in images, Louie allows space for their audience to critically observe and embody the absurdity of normalised experiences; with LGBTQI+ traditions and Mātauranga Māori supporting their practice.
Louie’s work has recently featured at Artspace Aotearoa’s New Artists Show (2020); Critical Costume Conference (Norway 2020); Shared Lines Collective at Birdo Flugas Gallery Sendai (Japan) and Kaikōura (2019); and at MEANWHILE, where they are currently a lead facilitator.
On September 11 1986, the contents of the Lesbian & Gay Archive in Wellington were set alight in a homophobic arson attack. The charred documents that survived the blaze are a starting point for this garment project as a symbol of historical queer resilience. I’ve translated these fragile paper forms into a wearable quilt in reference to the AIDS memorial quilts, using techniques such as trapunto, appliqué, embroidery, dying and staining. Phrases from the documents that are no longer used in the evolving queer linguistics of today shows a juxtaposition that layers past with present; subtle with explicit; derogatory with reclaimed — blurring them together in an eclectic mix of style and history.
The pressure from COVID has highlighted the inequalities that marginalised communities have been facing for years. In working on this project, I've felt the revolutionary spirit of the forerunners of the Gay Liberation Movement and am proud to be able to look back on their achievements and carry them into the future.