In March 2020 my same-sex partner and I got engaged; having been in a relationship for almost five years, we both agreed to the commitment of life-long unity. ‘An Ascension’ is a body of work that explores queerness, love, hope and devotion, developed during this period of engagement.
As a child I received a Catholic education, one that outwardly taught the sins of deviation from the heterosexual path. About the time I began to move away from this faith, I experienced my first homosexual feelings or at least the first feelings I understood to be so. From this point on, my understanding of my own sexuality and the directions in which my orientation would point developed; however, the influence of Catholic guilt lingered. Despite being openly gay with close friends and family by the age of 18, I couldn’t escape the visions of myself one day marrying and starting a family with a woman. In some ways, while my relationship to my own sexuality has evolved since that time, I still feel the lingering shadow of that Catholic outlook on homosexuality over my shoulder; and this is no unique experience. In ‘An Ascension’ I aim to study these shadows, while filling them with the light of hope that is my love for, and devotion to my partner.
‘An Ascension’ combines metaphor with diaristic representations of the spaces we build together, the experiences we share and the bodies we unite; the work aims to represent the themes of queerness and devotion through abstraction and symbolism, all the while acknowledging the shadows of the past. My present-day self looks back to my eleven-year-old self, who returns a hopeful gaze; simultaneously, I look ahead to the promise of marital bliss and the potential of queer unity.
All images ©Michael Swann