'Me Want Now'
David Gill Gallery
2-4 King Street
St. James's, London
ME WANT NOW
November - December 2016
Have more, buy more, do better, move forward, grow, succeed, win. ME WANT NOW offers a metaphorical narrative on the dominance of this ideology and debates our values in an increasingly polarised political landscape. The world moves forward at a never-ending pace driven by the powerful desires of the individual feeding the engine of the ‘me first’ culture. But, understood hegemonies are in flux. Uncertainty promotes fear. This in turn triggers an animalistic self-preservation instinct in us. Perhaps this is a never-ending struggle – a toxic combination. Is this an age-old battle between the haves and the have-nots? In The History of the Peloponnesian War, Greek writer and historian Thucydides said: “the strong actually do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.”
ME WANT NOW is a new body of work by Barnaby Barford that compels the viewer to question our relationships and the world around us. Large scale energetic Word drawings, offer a departure from the meticulous planning, order and structure of Barford’s sculptural works. These Word Drawings embody the chaotic immediacy and almost forceful nature of the ‘me first’ mentality and act as the voice of the powerful, trapping us by offering things that ‘we’ want now, with no regard for the consequences. The drawings appear deranged but also serene and beautiful and form claustrophobic ‘nets’ that envelop a series of life-size animal sculptures and Trophy Mirrors. Repetition is carried through to these sculptures which are constructed from thousands of individual ceramic pieces featuring fragments of the Word Drawings.
‘More’, ‘Power’, ‘Change’, ‘Choice’,’ Hope’, ‘Glory’ – These are the things that have often driven mankind to achieve great things, words that are inherently positive, however once repeated incessantly, their meaning becomes warped. It is the egocentric pursuit of these bastions dominating the current climate which has driven this body of work.
Barford says: “it feels like words have never been so important – those written in the press, posted across social media and in speeches from our politicians, in volatile times words can be dangerous.”
At the heart of ME WANT NOW is a series of life-size ceramic sculptures, a queue of animals lining up patiently waiting. Seemingly powerful creatures from the 8ft Polar Bear to the Tiger, the Wolf, the Black Panther, the Brown Bear wait alongside the vulnerable; the Baby Elephant, the Rabbit, the Roe Deer and Foal. The queue places them all side-by-side, powerless as they wait for the unknown, a visual allegory of human existence. The sense of disquiet hovers throughout reminding us of human queues – from ration queues to the dole queue to queues simply just to get in. A series of Trophy Mirrors in a separate room, featuring the ceramic animal heads mounted on mirrored plaques may suggest the future of the waiting animals, offering a disturbing sense of doom. Barford once again employs the mirror to both physically and metaphorically present us with an uncomfortable glimpse of ourselves reflected in the work.
Barford quotes: “Individually the words I have chosen are positive as are the pieces in isolation, it is in their relationship to each other and ultimately the installation as a whole that drives the narrative of the exhibition. Fear promotes the ‘me first’ culture, the disregard of consequences and the collateral damage that ensues seems to be eroding our sense of collective humanity.” Barford goes onto ask: ”In the face of our insatiable need for more, and the resulting constant sense of discontent, is this what we really want?”