Southard Reid is proud to present a solo exhibition of new video and sculpture by Mark Barker.
Barker’s practice is characterized by an exploration of the relationships between people and inanimate objects. He uses narrative structure as a loose framework to investigate certain objects’ potential to embody desires and act as mediators for storytelling. Sculptures are fabricated and incorporated into larger sets within which the playing out of performed action is filmed.
For his exhibition at Southard Reid, Barker presents the video melodrama Stolen From Men, 2011, centering on the fraught exchange between two characters over the course of an evening. As their confrontation unfolds, constructed props as well as found domestic items are activated, acting as go-betweens for the performers and rendering the props as apparatus for a game between the two men. Both men are complicit as they attempt to test one another’s boundaries.
The action and dialogue in Barker’s video simultaneously sets up and deconstructs the narratives that are presented. The characters in Stolen From Men are familiar but unknowable, natural in manner yet also staged and artificial. There is a persistent threat of violence and disruption that does not come to pass – a non-resolution to their exchanges and relationship, underscored by the claustrophobia and almost absurdity of the set. Some of these devices are reminiscent of post-war British cinema and television.
A bench from where the video is viewed, and the wall based work Untitled, 2011 act as allies to the protagonists in the video whilst also presenting as minimalist sculptural forms, evidently hand made, their duel functionality asking further questions of their role.
Barker was born in 1983 and graduated from The Slade School of Fine Art in 2007. He recently participated in the LUX Associate Artists Programme, 2009-2010. His work has been included in exhibitions and screenings at Auto Italia, London, Outpost, Norwich, E:vent Gallery, London, Transmission Gallery, Glasgow and CHELSEA Space, London. He lives and works in London.