A New Oscar Wilde Temple Will Celebrate Wilde’s Refusal To Hide His Sexuality

by Hannah Rose

On September 11, 2017, NYC artist duo McDermott & McGough (who achieved notoriety in the 1980s for their self-imposed immersion in Victorian era — a “time experiment” that encompassed their dress, home, art studios and more) will unveil their Oscar Wilde Temple. The Temple is “an ambitious public installation work two decades in the making, conceived as a welcoming secular space to honor one of the earliest and most courageous forebears in the centuries-long struggle for gay liberation and to celebrate the fight for equality.”

Famed Irish author, novelist, poet, and playwright Oscar Wilde (1864-1900) refused to hide his sexuality and was even sentenced to two years of imprisonment and hard labor after being convicted of “homosexual offences” in 1895. The Temple will pay tribute to Wilde’s artistic and social influence by combining painting, sculpture, and elements that recall the “beautiful and provocative sensuousness” of the Aesthetic Movement Wilde championed.

McGough stated, “With such recent milestones as the same-sex marriage act voted and passed in Ireland, the official landmarking of New York’s Stonewall Inn as the birthplace of the gay liberation movement in the United States, and the United States Supreme Court decision to the protec the equal rights of marriage for same-sex couples across America, we have finally found an opportune moment to realize the work we’ve long dreamed of making.”

McDermott added, “The Temple is to be a place free of religious doctrine, honoring a watershed historical figure who pioneered the long struggle for equal rights for gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender peoples – a struggle that has intersection with our nation’s larger effort to acknowledge, accept, embrace, and draw strength from the profound diversity that makes society stronger and enriches the lives of all people.”

The Temple will be housed inside the The Church of the Village, a progressive, radically inclusive, and anti-racist church in the heart of the Greenwich Village Historic District. The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center of New York City (The Center) is also part of the collaboration that made the Temple possible, and all proceeds from private ceremonies held at the Temple (you can book it for weddings, memorials, and other celebrations!) as well as ongoing public donations to the Temple will support The Center’s programs for LGBTQ youth at risk of homelessness.

The exhibit, organized by independent curator Alison Gingeras, will be on display until from Semptember 11-December 2, 2017 at The Church of the Village at 201 West 13th Streeth (At 7th Avenue), New York City. The public may visit the Oscar Wilde Temple Tuesday through Saturday, from noon – 7pm. For info about booking weddings or other ceremonies in the Oscar Wilde Chapel, please contact: [email protected]. For general information about the Temple and the public porgramming that will be held over the course of the Temple’s operations, visit the Temple’s website and Instagram.

Check out some of the duo’s work for the Temple below.

Arrest of Oscar Wilde at the Cadogan Hotel

“Arrest of Oscar Wilde at The Cadogan Hotel”

Oscar Wilde in Prison copy

“Oscar Wilde in Prison”

Sale of Oscar Wildes household effects at Tite Street

“Sale of Oscar Wilde’s Household Effects at Tite Street”

The Green Carnation Oscar Wilde O.W. C.33 oil on linen 30 x 25 1994 copy

“The Green Carnation” (C 33 was Wilde’s prison number)

Self Portrait McDermott McGough 2014

“Self-Portait of McDermott & McGough”

Photos: The Oscar Wilde Temple, McDermott & McGough

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