Barber, George

George Barber’s work on “The Greatest Hits Of Scratch Video” is internationally known and has been featured in many galleries and festivals across the world. The Independent and Sunday Times ran features and the tapes, unusually for video art, once sold in record shops. His two famous works of the period, ‘Absence of Satan’ and ‘Yes Frank No Smoke’ are screened regularly and many other works in his canon are considered seminal in the history of British Video Art. Works such as ‘Shouting Match’ and ‘Automotive Action Painting’ represent a more conceptual direction in video. ‘Automotive Action Painting’ was installed at Tate Britain (Film and Video Umbrella), it went on to win First Prize at the 24th Hamburg International Short Film Festival in June 2008 and was also shown at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2009. Other international exhibits include ‘The Long Commute’ at Jack the Pelican Presents Gallery, Brooklyn, New York. LUX released a DVD compilation of his work in 2009 which received glowing reviews in Art Monthly, Art Forum and the Daily Telegraph.

He has been part of numerous programmes at Tate Modern and had retrospectives at the ICA, New York Film & Video Festival and recently at La Rochelle Festival, France. He has been written about by Paul Morley and Gareth Evans, the Time Out & Vertigo magazine critic.

Barber is eclectic, his ideas varied. Barber has created many low-tech video pieces and was influential in defining an emergent ‘slacker’ aesthetic. Narrative and found footage seem to be at the centre of much of his work, either deconstructing it or trying as an artist to evolve an approach that is contradictory to the maker’s original intention. His ‘Passing Ship’ has been widely screened at festivals, as too his ‘Hovis Advert’ and ‘Walking Off Court’. Barber’s skills as a writer have led him to produce many lyrical works too, including ‘Ansaphone’ and ‘Withdrawal’. ‘Withdrawal’ was exhibited as part of the international touring show, ‘Figuring Landscapes’ starting at Tate Modern and is highly regarded itself in the history of the Animate scheme.

His monologues like “Refusing Potatoes” or “I Was Once Involved In A Shit Show” are simple performances that carry the viewer into a genuinely odd confessional world. The monologue form particularly suits Barber as his instinct for the incongruous is appealing. Here, as in “Scratch”, he is trying to ‘layer’ another of his own stories and thoughts onto someone else’s creation, and piggyback on the original’s cultural familiarity. This project also continues in his latest found footage work, ‘Following Your Heart’, ‘Welcome’, ‘Autumn’ and ‘Losing Faith’ 2008, using off-air adverts and tv films, mostly American. The central conceit is to take found footage and manipulate it into a new artistic experience. The ingredients of television are inverted and put to new purposes.

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