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A Text Concerning the “Pulsiones” Exhibit at La Tertulia Museum


Miguel González, 1993


Alicia Barney has focused her work on critical and political topics. A neutral, aestheticist body of work has always been far from her interests. The strength of her gestures, actions, environments and accusations resides in its pressing, dramatic, and moving themes that always emerge as arguments.


In Diario-Objeto [Diary-Object] (1976-79), she collected trash in New York and Tumaco, a port on the Pacific Ocean in Colombia. Both are dirty places that figure in Barney’s autobiography, and in which waste occupies a crucial role. In this sense, the works Yumbo (1980), about the industrial zone outside Cali and its permanent pollution, and Río Cauca [Cauca River] (1983), about the degree of pollution in the waters in a vast segment of the river, were her works materialize through decomposed matter. These accusations aimed to propose a renewal of the language and materials of art, calling attention to the environmental tragedies that affect our society.


Aves en el cielo [Birds in the Sky] is a work that denounces the latest tragedies that have befallen the animal kingdom in several continents, and the daily killings in different parts of the planet, for various reasons. The scorched birds have been sculpted with a petroleum-derived material from, one of the deadliest elements there are. The animals are under assault, and the artist has placed them in aggressive postures, with broken glass sticking out of their bodies to display their condition. They are situated on cotton clouds in which the banality of the execution accents the irony of an eternal, dark, and unreal glory. The asphalt floor, and the black light which imbues everything with a melancholy atmosphere, setting in motion the combination of black humor and the sad gathering of dead birds in the sky.


Alicia Barney’s dying corner is a new reflection on man’s environment and crimes, an idea to which the artist returns with timely skill and a moving solution.

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