Encapsulating aspects of drawing, painting, dance and performance, Kelly Barrie’s large-format photographs can be read on many levels. Barrie’s process evolves from the experience of existing images as imaginary sites where the past and present converge.
Starting with found photographs of objects that have been destroyed, and subsequently, lost to history, he performs his response to them by literally walking it out on the studio floor using toe drags, heel spins, snake walks and foot sweeps to manipulate photo-luminescent pigment on black paper. The drawing is then documented in several dozen 8” X 10” sections using a 35 mm camera utilizing natural daylight stored in the light-sensitive powder. The powder’s light is released by using the vertical blinds in the artist’s studio as a type of aperture. Over the course of several weeks, 70 or more photographs are taken using a grid system which later allows the artist to stitch the photos back together using computer software in order to complete a finished photograph. ‘Between the Blinds,’ refers to the series of photographs based on this process, which Barrie began in 2008.
The centerpiece of this exhibition; ‘Twenty Grand, Saint Pierre de Varengeville-Duclair Forest, Rouen Normandy, circa 1945’ derives its titled from “Twenty Grand,” which was the name of one of nine ‘cigarette camps’ erected in Rouen, France in 1945. Each of the US Army camps was named after a popular brand of cigarettes of the day (among them Pall Mall, Old Gold, Philip Morris, Chesterfield, Lucky Strike, Home Run, Wings and Herbert Tareyton) where thousands of American soldiers were stationed after the liberation of Normandy. The trees surrounded land in the heart of the Saint Pierre de Varengeville-Duclair Forest near Rouen used by troops needing treatment or waiting to be sent elsewhere.
'Tree of Tenere' also known as 'The Lonely Tree of Tenere' is an image of legendary tree, which stood alone in the vast, Sahara Desert, the only form of vegetation for within 250 miles. For decades the tree stood undisturbed until 1973. The tree met an imporbable end when a Libyian truck driver accidentally drove into it.
Kelly Barrie was born in London in 1973 and has lived in New York City and Los Angeles since 1987. He received an MFA in Photography from California Institute of the Arts and continued post-graduate work in the Independent Study Program, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Kelly’s work has been represented in numerous group exhibitions including the 2008 Biennale of Sydney; the 2008 California Biennial; Sikkema Jenkins & Co, New York; Artists Space, New York; Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago; the Museo Alejandro Otero, Caracas.