Gerwyn Davies is a photographer, performer, digital artist, and costume designer — his artworks defy classification.
Words: Emma-Kate Wilson | Photography: Gerwyn Davies
Art no longer has to fit within one box, it can challenge, question, and inspire a little smirk. Gerwyn Davies shares how fun it can be to watch people struggle with his work, "people are frequently asking permission to smile or laugh, I feel like because it's art they're not able to engage with [the humour]."
It can be easy to see why looking into one of Gerwyn's photographs — his body is decorated in structural defying costumes (like balloons, carpet, mickey mouse gloves). His pose is often paused in movement, like a vignette of a performance. And the background follows this absurd narrative, a poolside, a Japanese Minka, the giant prawn. Gerwyn adds, "it's actually intentionally over the top — it's intentionally excessive and playful."
The sets are all a one-man show, Gerwyn builds the backgrounds, the costumes, and takes the photographs — while also being the model. It comes down to the control of the image, the artworks represent self-representation and how the photograph can act as a fictional device. But the costumes and sets are only ever temporal spaces. They exist for the artworks in a process Gerwyn describes as 'automatic', rather than continuing with any agency post-production.
Gerwyn's artworks extend a familiar narrative — in our selfie age, we all know how to set up a camera, a set, and do the all-important "editing." However, as the artist has been exploring in his PhD in photo media at UNSW Art & Design, his work fulfils a camp aesthetic. Gerwyn reflects, "it's nice to be able to really be able to dive into something that has a political urgency."
The research has allowed him to dig throughout the camp literature to reframe contemporary artists within the playful and energetic aesthetic style. It works partially well in Australia where the 'cultural cringe' and self-deprecation, provide ample content for the camp aesthetics.