Chris Coy’s BARNRAZER, 2012 joined the Barrick Collection last week. Navigating a series of reciprocated connections between Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s rococo masterwork, The Swing, 1767, and the suggestive movement of two monstrous characters through a landscape of horror movie tropes and contemporary digital modeling, this film approaches its ideas with a sense of audacity that excites us.
Coy helped us celebrate the event by screening BARNRAZER in a public program that included Jon Rafman’s A Man Digging, 2013, and Ode to Seekers 2012, 2016 by Andrew Norman Wilson. Introducing the three films, he spoke about the connections he saw between them:
The thematic threads that wind through these works trace a type of collective anxiety; of shared non-historical traumas—whether it’s a man digging through the medium of memory in Max Payne video games, a pizza delivery intruder transgressing a family’s threshold, or a not-so-steadicam operator moving through an abandoned children’s wing of a New York psych ward there are implied negotiations of personal loss mapped onto a roving search for meaning (which sounds like such a tired existential trope – but one that we each have to work out ourselves with fear and trembling); A successful quest requires a necessary trespass… we become the very ghosts we fear. We dig (to borrow a phrase from the title to Jon Rafman’s piece).
“Stories”, like Rafman’s narrator suggests, become a type of shorthand, the scribbled map, a talisman held up to a universe that often feels indifferent to our existence. Like Keats, we write odes to Grecian urns as a way to explore the vibration of human moments frozen between life and not life; also known as ‘death’. John Keats’ poem, which was a reference for the work of Andrew Norman Wilson that we’re showing tonight, personifies the role of art in directing attention towards the power of intentional viewership. Our gaze, our ekphrastic expressions re-animate the cavorting figures of our respective urns and they fly from the shadows of their own automation like zombie mosquitos to suck the blood (and marrow) from our own meager tableaus. It reminds me of that now trite phrase/thought experiment : “if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” I think the answer could very well be, “It does. It is the sound of the universe.