David McDermott and Peter McGough (born 1952 and 1958 respectively) have collaborated on a unique, all-encompassing art practice since 1980—entwining their life and art into an unprecedented gesamtkunstwerk that explores issues of gay identity, societal repression, and performative time travel. 

Known simply by their linked surnames, McDermott & McGough achieved notoriety in the bohemian downtown quarters of New York in the 1980s via their self-imposed immersion in the Victorian era. Their dress, their home, their art studios (down to the materials and techniques they deployed) were strictly faithful to late 19th and early 20th centuries. Through this “time experiment,” McDermott & McGough have consistently challenged the chronological boundaries of art history and cultural identity with a wide-ranging practice that encompasses photography, painting, sculpture, and installation works. Their art frequently addresses the homoerotic aspects of Victorian culture while simultaneously acknowledging the oppressive politics of the same period. 

McDermott & McGough, Portrait of the Artists (with Top Hats), 1865, Palladium, 1991 (Courtesy of the Artists)

McDermott & McGough, Portrait of the Artists (with Top Hats), 1865, Palladium, 1991 (Courtesy of the Artists)