Noa Barker

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Artist Statement

The portfolio begins with a ‘suspended’ (yet to be installed) module of an infinitely large edition of unique components. It is the most recent work of mine to be exhibited. The entirety of the collected modules is titled Didactic Divergence Facility. The facility and the divergent activity referred to originate from a prologue for a science fiction narrative set in a futureless present. The prologue, featured next in the portfolio, was the central and final work to be installed in the exhibition titled Divergence Motor/Albatross Alarm, which began with a work stoppage as I requested the gallerists to suspend their renovation of the hairdresser-come-white box. This was followed by a subscription to the Financial Times, which covered the storefront windows, being updated as the papers were delivered. In the prologue, the phenomenon of a missing future is paired with the loss of distinct temporal relations. The scrolling text begins: “There is a unity referred to as the present that exists in heightened forms in certain spaces.” To this end I introduced an exchange of terminology where in representations of space (the social function of art) becomes a heightened temporal awareness caused by divergence and the spaces of representation (the gallery) becomes a facility in which the divergence occurs and the heightened present is experienced.  In order to explain how I arrived at such claims I will summarize the concerns of my writing and curating from earlier in 2015 and 2014 that led up to the exhibition and beyond it, informing contributions to other exhibitions and future projects.

In April 2015 I curated International Currency at a gallery in Mexico City. The show featured single works by Liam Gillick, Cameron Rowland and Scott Reeder. At this time I was interested in staging a spatial-temporal logic that contemporary art was destine to represent and expand in its global diffusion into service, real estate, and finance oriented metropolitan areas. I was set on contextualizing a wave of recent attempts to define contemporary art with Henri Lefebvre’s social productions of space, Capitalism’s ‘New Spirit’ described by Luc Boltanski and Eve Chiapello, and geographer David Harvey’s account of “flexible accumulation” and uneven development. The exhibition featured an unlisted work of my own: a previously exhibited projector-mount was sand blasted and chromed to host the video by Gillick. The exhibition text, included below, begins with an inversion of a slogan spray painted at the Sorbonne in May ‘68: “beneath the cobblestone the beach.” The inverted slogan refers to an era of political response to the negativity of critique. Negation is here bound to the cynic as desiring a future distinct from the present that corrects all the present lacks. The beach and sand recur in the text as a metaphor for urban development and a flexible power structure.

We’re at the beach now, beneath the cobblestone. The city was so despicable before. It was restless with resistance. There’s no longer anything to resist. I only can exist. Five decades it took for power to conform to me, on its own timetable. No instant revolution, no romantic moment, but a slow defilement followed by reconstruction; streets ground to sand.

I remember! Art was at the barricade, on the wall, directing resistance: ‘dig up the pavement and hurl it.’ A Dummies Guide to Negation. In the world to tell me what I don’t want.

Now I have what I need; a vitrine for luxurious living and a future I project. Art doesn’t force my hand. Instead, I bring it together. My ideas fill its difference as we share our present and indeterminate future.

Writing in first person and emphasis on the ‘I’ pronoun is to signify a sense of individual achievement as a motor of the future. Self projection in the sphere of careerism resulted from management reforms in the white collar sector that used the rhetoric of agency for employees with regards to their future prospects, but was deployed with the intention of increasing redundancy leading to the zero-hour precariat worker. A similar debasing of organized labor was achieved through transformations in the logistical production of goods leading to sustained unemployment. Such destabilizations of work occurred within a political and social mileu of individualism, lean corporatism, and flexibility, put another way: there was a fragmentation of collective history and futures. It is necessary to grasp these actions as a direct response to the critiques made in the late 60’s and 70’s. The spaces of representation and representation of spaces developed, in that era, toward an appreciation of the local and difference accommodated by global perspectives and an emphasis of aggregation and curation. It is in attempting to simultaneously describe and abstract the systems of logic and response involved with the era following the 70s that Divergence Motor/Albatross Alarm takes form.  Art production and dispersion is conceived within a feed back loop of observation and deployment as a tangible extension of the era’s spatial-temporal logic. As the title of a previous work puts it, art can be considered “A collectively indeterminate local concentration of global production taken to signify the unity of the present.“ The simultaneity of art’s production becomes the basis of its universalist claims. The contemporary is a phantom concept from which all can seemingly project unique futures, though what the scenario lacks is the group, the collective, and the specificity of a strong future projection that those social concepts entail.

The closing sentence in the video titled Thomas Shannon, Assistant Secretary, Department of State, Western Hemisphere Affairs affirms the use of individuated agency as a rhetoric for subsuming populist currents: “Give people the belief and the hope that individuals will actually be agents of their own destiny, that they will actually have some degree of control over their lives and the lives of their children.” The text in the video was transcribed from a C-SPAN recording of Thomas Shannon addressing Chavismo in 2006 at the Council of the Americas, the free trade meeting group founded by David Rockefeller. The work was prepared for the X Bienal de Nicaragua as a study of language, but was not exhibited, being deemed too controversial for the necessarily a-political stance of the privately funded exhibition within the corpse of a revolutionary state.  In turn, excess seating taken from the office space, used for the viewing of other artist’s videos and given titles as concepts either present, repressed, or absent in Nicaraguan society and the room of viewing. The work is specifically engaged with evasion and refusal as means of subsisting within a clear moment of deployment.

Included next in the portfolio is the beginning to a much longer video that remains in progress for a November exhibition in Dallas. It is a reanimation of a conversation I had with curator Mark Beasley for an art publication while touring Roosevelt Island, during which I took several hundred photos. The On-Call Sleeper and the Active Agent discuss ways of working and art as a consciousness within larger systems. Art is not referred to directly, but as an activity that has been allowed to subsist within modern liberal bourgeois capitalist society. The audio is a piano variation of Fleetwood Mac’s 1968 single Albatross, which is featured as the song plainly in the prologue. This video will be featured with a large iteration of the Didactic Divergence Facility, previously exhibited modules of which close the portfolio.










School of the Art Institute of Chicago — BFA, 2013

Lonely Wife curated by Attilia Fattori Franchini, Seventeen, London
(upcoming) 開発/Development curated by Liam Gillick for Okayama Art Summit,Okayama, Japan.
(upcoming) A Projection in the DDF, And Now, Dallas, 2016 [SOLO] Noah Barker, Rémy Zaugg curated by Timothy James Kelly, Chicago, 2016
Noah Barker, Benjamin Horns, Hannah Levy, Carlos Reyes, Eric Veit, Rear
Window, New York, 2016
presented by Exo Exo and Lodos, Exo Exo, Paris, 2016 [TWO PERSON] Ver Lento, Centro de la Imagen, Mexico City, 2016
X Bienal de Nicaragua curated by Oliver Martinez Kandt, 2016
Material Art Fair, Lodos Contemporáneo, Mexico City, 2016
Prologue: Divergence Motor/Albatross Alarm, First Continent, Baltimore, 2015

[SOLO] 2015
International Currency
, Lodos Contemporáneo, Mexico City, 2015 (curator)
Beneath a Thawing Lake, Dark Arts International, Mexico City, 2015
Stowaways, city of Milan, online, and Brand New Gallery, Milan, 2014
d h c m r l c h t d j, Peregrine Program, Chicago, 2014
Lift With Your Legs, Charlotte Street Foundation, Kansas City, 2014
Free Paarking, Free Paarking, St. Louis, 2014
Are you thinking about Atlantis?, curated by Komplot, Parrallel Oaxaca, Oaxaca,2014
Material Art Fair, Lodos Contemporáneo, Mexico City, 2014
Production Courtyard, 35th floor apartment of Will Rigby, Chicago, 2013 [SOLO] Production Courtyard, Lodos Contemporáneo, Chicago, 2013 [SOLO]


SAIC BFA Fellowship, 2013
SAIC Presidential Scholarship, 2011-13


Beasley, Mark. “Projecting an Island From Another,” Mousse Magazine, n. 54
Summer, 2016

Barker, Noah. “Dora Budor, ” CURA. Magazine,“ Spring/April, 2016

Dupuis, Dorothée. “International Currency, Lodos / Mexico City,” Flash Art, July 24, 2015, gillicklodos-mexico-city/.

Wick, Jacob. “Economies of Resignation,” Bad at Sports, June 19, 2015,