About “Aves en el cielo [Birds in the sky]”

 

Text by José Hernán Aguilar for the exhibit

“Degas en el Trópico [Degas in the Tropics], 1993”

 

The birds in Alicia Barney’s Aves en el Cielo are not charming, but they are the inhabitants of a paradise in which the principal divinity is asphyxiation. They are dying with the same sadness and resignation that can be guessed in the dancers and washerwomen of Degas, whose deaths were surely caused by social catastrophes. Barney’s asphalt birds are annihilated because of their innocence and defenselessness; the gasoline that carries them to the sky overcomes the cotton clouds that will save them. The blunt fragmentation that Barney performs on separating feathered birds from cotton balls concretizes a violated space, in which the uneven formats (glass, convulsed movements in the birds) and the darkness of the material set off the miracle of creating souls in some deserving birds. Similar to horses or to Degas’ bathers, Barney’s birds wait for the camera to roll moving on to the next pose, the next agonized breath.