ZOOM ALICIA BARNEY

 

Carlos Jiménez, Cali, 1999

Alicia Barney’s installation, enigmatically titled El sujeto como tal  [The Subject as It Is], is an excellent display of the of the aggressive, provocative disposition that becomes more and more evident in the work of this artist. In this piece she moves away from the pressing ecological concerns, to immerse herself in cultural criticism. Specifically, concerning so-called collective imaginaries, composed of representation and recurrent iconographic motifs which appear among entire strata of society. It seems that what interests Alicia Barney the most are things marked by their banality.

 

Banality, however, points in many directions, which go far beyond the supposed or real candor of children’s toys or the insignificance of costume jewelry or Christmas ornaments. Hannah Arendt, who had a deep knowledge of horror through her experience of Nazism, denounced “the banality of evil” as one of its features. And it is precisely this double-terribleness that Alicia Barney has put into action in her installation in the Sixth Art Biennial of Bogota at the Museum of Modern Art. In its four corners were four powerful columns of red silk. Above them, as if forming a spider of Venetian glass tears, hung one hundred filaments with hypodermic needles. Below them was a large container with glass boxes full of broken crystals floating on liters and liters of blood. The blood became rotten and full of maggots and the stench was unbearable throughout the Museum. It became so bad that the directors threw out the blood and closed the installation. Impressive and revealing.