Human beings relate to one another through a variety of modes of exchange, and via all matter of means: language, money, emotions, politics, symbols, family, community, geography, technology, and sex (to name just a few). Azkuna Zentroa organizes the artist’s first major exhibition with her work over the last decade. In this show, Itziar Barrio explores these and other ways that we navigate the world and each other, and points to what unites them all—power. Barrio’s interest in the nature of social negotiation manifests in live performance, film, video, photography, sculpture, and expanded installation techniques.
Often recruiting pre-existing “scripts” for her own purposes, the artist weaves complex theatrical and aesthetic narratives that plumb the limits of shared knowledge and upset unconscious expectations. Barrio cites sources and objects as specific and specialized as Stanley Milgram’s experiments on obedience alongside those ubiquitous enough to seem nearly universal, such as IKEA designed folding chairs. Invoking generic character-types such as “hero”/”heroine”, “villain”, “seafarer,” and “pickpocket”, she nonetheless renders such clichés the stuff of flesh and blood, with unexpected heart, soul, and desire.
Best known for her complex live-recorded performance productions, in which the spontaneity of the live clashes with the ostensible predictability of the contrived and the mediated, Barrio suggests that we are all actors in our own situations.