The images in THE DOLLS are gods emerged from a poem the artist wrote in 2020 – also used as a script for a film – and an ongoing body of work which articulates how Connor, as a nonbinary transfeminine person, interconnects with time and place. The work responds to Connor’s opposing feelings of love and mourning elicited by their relationships to gender and their natural surroundings.
About the artist
Connor Fitzgerald is an artist based in Te Whanganui-a-Tara, with a multi-disciplinary practice in video, writing and installation. They let their experience as a transfeminine person lead the direction of their research. Centring themself within the wider context of their surroundings opens the opportunity for their creative output to be a process for grounding.
Connor recently presented the collaborative exhibition GLOSSY LEAF kiss at Blue Oyster Art Project Space, Ōtepoti Dunedin (2021), and was part of the group show 2+2+2 at Precinct 35, Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington (2020). They have a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Massey University. Connor currently works at Gender Minorities Aotearoa and is a facilitator at play_station gallery.
THE DOLLS are gods
Connor Fitzgerald, 2021
When I wrote the poem CLOSE UR EYES, MAKE A WISH, I was coming to grips with multiple life-changing experiences.
I was really settling in and feeling more comfortable and proud of being trans. This reality that I had faced for years I had finally let wash over me, and I accepted who I actually was: ‘Oh, maybe I’m not just nonbinary…’
i used to love being n/o/n/b/i/n/a/r/y/
I probably still do…but like
Im just in this space of
I was finally having the beautiful experience of having words to explain who I was – letting myself be trans and nonbinary without fear of… I don’t even know what I was afraid of. Maybe feeling like a fraud?
I was seeing a path that I could follow – I could recognise things that made me happy, a future I could envision myself within.
This realisation came hand in hand with me coming to a closer relationship to the earth, land, bush, trees, birds and dirt that surrounds me, which raised me. I had never had such experience of grounding and connection, or felt so held and in control of my life. Coming to learn the names of trees, the histories of what certain spaces and land was used for; being surrounded by dense native bush; feeling the wet bark of trees which were here years before me and will be here years after me; hearing the high-pitched song of pīwakawaka <3
FEEL THE GRASS
KISSING IN THE WIND
As I was coming to these experiences, I couldn’t help but see them as interconnected. I couldn’t help but link this experience of groundedness with my gender. Like, as I felt more comfortable and grounded, the real me could emerge.
Imagine digging into that nutrient rich soil/ (soul)
And getting moist, beautiful smelling dirt all under ur freshly finished set
And theres worms curling around ur newly colored INCHES
Theres that meeting of the inbetween
Theres that meeting where my bright colorful hello kitty plushie is amongst the stink
Its that meeting where my imitation Miu Miu gets grass stains
And my nails fly off
And my hair is ruined
The emerging feelings of positivity and knowledge also came with intense stress and pain. It was exciting and terrifying. A large amount of information surrounding me was trans women being faced with intense adversity and violence. GoFundMe after GoFundMe from transfeminine people needing help with housing, work, recovery, surgery, bills, survival, funeral funds. Laws being passed around the world making it harder for trans women to exist freely.
I would walk through Belmont Regional Park in Te Awakairangi Lower Hutt, where I grew up, and feel so blessed, alive and emotional that spaces like this still exist on our doorsteps. There’s a rimu on this walk which may predate European settlement… Even thinking of this tree makes me emotional – it’s so large, beautiful and has seen so much. There are the largest ferns I’ve ever seen; the tūī sing so loud… I’ve twice seen kākāriki in this bush...
I walk out of the forest and back into suburbia and think about how many trees were cut down for housing developments. How when I look over the hills and it’s just grass, farmland, and houses, you can see how violent and disruptive an impact colonisation has had on the land and therefore its people.
The ecology of our world is collapsing. Animal species are going extinct, people and animals are losing their homes, most of the rivers in Aotearoa are polluted… There’s a never-ending list of the destruction people have done to the earth.
This body of work is me trying to articulate these feelings – these clashing and smashing-together emotions. It’s me trying to be hopeful while facing disaster. Yelling positivity into the void. Grappling the spiral. Rays of light piercing through.
(THE FOREST IS DYING)
Idk its when there’s a dead/ murdered/ tree
But there's fungus (AFTER THE RAIN)
growing all around the base
I have to recognise how important and impactful my friends and the trans people that surround me have been on my life. Transfems have made me realise my worth, have built me up, shown me a path to follow, opened my eyes to things I couldn't have dreamed to be possible. Trans people are magic… literal angels spiralling the earth. The dolls have shown me nothing but grace and I will forever be indebted to these incredible people that surround me.
Its that kiss where i’m crying as im typing but
Walking forward into the future <3
THE DOLLS are gods
→ Connor Fitzgerald: CLOSE UR EYES MAKE A WISH