Installation view of J Davies’s work on display as part of the <em>Melbourne Now</em> exhibition at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne from 24 March – 20 August 2023. Image: Sean Fennessy

J Davies

J Davies
(b. 1994, Melbourne. Lives and works in Melbourne)

J Davies is a Māori, agender and Takatāpui artist who uses photography to document their life as well as their queer community. In their ongoing practice of archiving contemporary queer existence in Melbourne, Davies cultivates connection to community and culture while touching on themes of identity, intimacy and neurodiversity.

At Melbourne Now, Davies presents a collection of photographs taken in Naarm/Melbourne over the past four years. Displayed around a historic nineteenth-century Carrara marble mantelpiece imported from Florence, the photographs and their thoughtful mise en scène quietly subvert the conventions of the fireplace as a site where traditional family photos are displayed. The mass of pinned photographs celebrates the power of queer community and resistance, challenging social constructs that persist around sexuality, gender and relationships. There is an element of voyeurism, as the audience is invited into private and closed queer spaces through the legacy of Davies’s archive. By blurring boundaries between public and private zones, audiences bear witness to the enduring love of queer chosen families.

Davies has been experimenting with photography since 2008, graduating from the Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne, in 2017. They have exhibited their work at Sol Gallery, Incinerator Gallery, Blak Dot Gallery, Centre for Contemporary Photography, c3 Contemporary Artspace, Seventh Gallery and more. A current artist in residence at Collingwood Yards, Davies was also the winner of the World Centred Photography Practice Award from RMIT (2022), and in the same year was shortlisted for the William and Winifred Bowness Photography Prize at Monash Gallery of Art and the Incinerator Award at Incinerator Gallery. In 2022, they published their first book, Half of my Whole Life was Just a Dream, which explores themes of consciousness and subconsciousness.