LAS FLORES DEL MAL (The Flowers of Evil)

 

Alicia Barney, 2001

“1.6 million People worldwide die each year from violent deaths; half of them are suicides.”

 

Human life is so fragile that a tiny metal object filled with gunpowder can destroy that life upon entering the body.

The skin, the largest vital organ in our bodies, is a shield for peaceful times.

I present these works at the "Espacio Vacío" [Empty Space] November 2002, as lines of thought that come out of extra-artistic difficulties, putting into motion a body of ideas and images. I intend to make a connection between the pragmatic character of the media as a base for concepts and images, provoking the spectators’ expansion of thought.It is a work that is speculative by vocation; a work about intersecting several fields, including the ecological, the anthropological, the metaphysical, and the relations between them.I do not seek the clarity of a one-dimensional vision, because that would limit “reality’s” the necessary steps and complex  processes of development for a work of art to be relevant in the wider sphere of society and thought.

11,170 plant and animal species face extinction today, according to a report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

At the beginning of 1980, my work was concerned with the relations between humans and their environment; specifically with the deterioration of these relations, exemplified by diverse ecological imbalances of our time. Works using the elements of air and water, such as "Yumbo" and “Río Cauca” (The Cauca River) respectively, are good examples. This research led me to look back to those times and human groups in which this deterioration didn’t exist and human beings conceived themselves (and their environment) as a manifestation of an underlying unity in harmony with a cosmic order. The series of works “Objeto Precolombino” (Pre-Columbian Objects) –sacred objects– was born from an approach to this Primeval Man as Cosmic Man.Later, as an expansion of this work, I included man’s relations not only with nature, but with his cultural production, and, closing the circle, with the cosmos –not only as an object of observation, but of affinity. In this context comes "Rama Dorada (The Golden Bough) in homage to J.G. Frazer, a work from the 1990s, composed of chicken eggs, human hands, piñata toys, and a giant hanging nest of dry branches, or in a second version, five suspended golden spheres.                                                                                                                                                     

 

Finally, in this exhibit, I intend to point to the problem of extremes: one side, the human impulses towards the crude and on the other to the subtle and even the sublime. The relationship of humankind with the material world: as protector of life and also its destroyer. Within the first subtle aspect, we can find metaphysical inclinations.                     

 

One extreme, the human being burying (him/herself) in the material world to the extreme of self-destruction; which in our country seems to grow like “Mushrooms” or like a vortex pulling below, intertwining itself like a beautiful flower: as the “Flowers of Evil”  with all the characteristics of the extreme. There is also the human impulse towards the greatest spiritual heights like some “Some Flyers”.  The Yogic flight, a practice in which gravity is defied, postulating a surprising relation with the material, a true paradox to our version of “reality.” The yogic flight comes from an ancient tradition, which has never died and which can still occasionally manifest itself as a strange mystery, giving validity to the –in other times– universal idea of a cosmic origins of human beings. This tradition, although anchored in the doctrine of a particular cultural and historical structure, does not derive from this doctrine, but from an experience, a direct and spontaneous enlightenment; from a transcendental vision of the human being immerse in the experience of being the cosmos, of a cosmic human being who´s experience and body are at once elevated, thus operating the creative energy of Being, also known as Pure Consciousness. In this exhibit, like in previous works, I do not intend to take sides, but to act as a witness to the knowledge I have come across in my research.      

 

Here I display these two extreme impulses, two opposing principles, but equally valid, as real and possible options in opposing poles; in a work which is very fragile for obvious reasons: a primitive violent present, a human future of transcendence. The origin and final destination all at once.