Thursday, 29 November 2012

New exhibition: Reins of Chaos: The Apocalypse as a Four-Part Concerto


















Reins of Chaos: The Apocalypse as a Four-Part Concerto
Mary Anne Barkhouse
Dec 1, 2012 - Jan 20, 2013
Opening reception: Sun, Dec 2,  2-4pm

In Reins of Chaos Mary Anne Barkhouse explores the concept of the Apocalypse, both as told in the biblical Book of Revelations and as referenced in a range of modern environmental, technological and psychological crises. Barkhouse has chosen to focus on the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and presents them in three versions; as coin-operated kiddie rides; as rocking horses and as small bronze statues. In each version, however, the horses are riderless, suggesting that there are options to Conquest, War, Pestilence and Death and simultaneously encouraging the viewer to interact with the works and complete the gaps in the expected story. With the coin operated horses the potential for interaction is quite literal. The viewer can become a rider since these ponies are fully operational. The horses are contrasted with the Donkey of Eternal Salvation. This humble creature, often perceived as the horse's inferior, is the creature in the Bible ridden by Jesus on his triumphant arrival into Jerusalem and, in its quiet and non-imposing position, offers a moment of hope.

The horses also make reference to colonial history, to a North American cultural tradition of Cowboys and Indians and the complex relationships between animals and humans in general.  The mechanical and wooden horses evoke nostalgia for childhood; they are playful and fun, but they represent animals that have been tamed, even made captives. By presenting them as the horses of the apocalypse, Barkhouse reverses these roles and we become subservient to them.

As with all her work, Barkhouse presents this story from the perspective of a native Canadian, whose culture does not have an apocalyptic end-of-the-world story. The exhibition is beautifully executed, engaging, humorous, challenging and perhaps most importantly, Barkhouse has taken an old story and made it relevant in a whole new light.

A member of the Nimpkish band, Kwakiutl First Nation, Mary Anne Barkhouse was born in BC. She currently lives near Minden, Ontario. She creates art that addresses the relationships between humans, history and the land with intelligence and humour.

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