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My Barbarian’s Broke People’s Baroque People’s Theater

February 11, 2012 8:00 am - March 11, 2012 5:00 pm


“Artistic innovation
Patronized by royal advisors
Wasteful spending
In a time of destruction and war
Gods of Play! 1
Artificial dolphins
Spitting plumes
Of Aqua in fake island fountains
Infrastructure crumbles
As the pleasure palace rises”
– Gods of Play by My Barbarian

Human Resources presents My Barbarian’s Broke People’s Baroque Peoples’ Theater, a residency in the form of a gallery installation that includes new videos, sculptures, and a performance environment.  The project highlights the paradoxes of an art practice founded in critique, which nonetheless relies on economic forces that are worthy of serious criticism.  In this time of spectacle and disparity, excess and poverty, the baroque figures as an ornate frame that contains all of these extremes.  My Barbarian performs a variety of styles within this frame; camp drag, baroque opera, communist drama, countercultural performance and world theater all accumulate into a set of narratives that assimilate too much information.  Enacting this accumulation, the group developed characters such as “Shakuntala DuBois” and “Cassandra Wasserstein Shakespeare,” masked figures who are trapped within cyclical forces they can foresee but cannot change.

The exhibition includes new works that stretch My Barbarian’s material vocabulary. These include “Tapestries,” or stylized videos projected on cloth surfaces, “Oracles,” which are Junoesque totemic figures that attempt to tell the future, and a large-scale model of a baroque theater, which becomes a context for miniature performances.  Theatrical elements, including a series of original masks and dramatic lighting, fill out the colorful environment.

Featuring these and other new works, Broke People’s Baroque Peoples’ Theater evolves out of a 2011 performance at the Kitchen, New York and a 2010 workshop and installation at Grand Arts, Kansas City, where the project was initiated as a part of artist Emily Roysdon’s Ecstatic Resistance exhibition.  These versions used live interactions to present the absurdities of the American financial crisis as a performance of wastefulness, trashiness and class warfare.

Following the mission of Human Resources, and the notion of excess, My Barbarian’s installation will also serve as a venue for several related screenings, events and performances throughout the residency.

Based in Los Angeles since 2000, My Barbarian has performed and exhibited internationally.  Solo exhibitions have included Participant Inc. (NYC), Hammer Museum (LA) and Museo El Eco (Mexico City).  Performance sites have included the Kitchen, New Museum, Whitney Museum, (NYC), LACMA, MOCA, REDCAT, (LA), Power Plant, (Toronto), De Appel (Amsterdam), El Matadero (Madrid), Galleria Civica (Trento), Peres Projects (Berlin) and Townhouse Gallery (Cairo).  The group was included in Performa 05 and 07, the 2006 and 2008 California Biennials, the 2007 Montreal Biennial, and the 2009 Baltic Triennial, and has appeared in group shows at the Studio Museum in Harlem, ICA Philadelphia, Hyde Park Art Center Chicago, MOCA Miami, Den Haag Sculptuur, Museum Het Domain, CCA Tel Aviv, Anton Kern Gallery in New York, and many others.  My Barbarian has received grants from Creative Capital (2012), Art Matters (2008), and the City of LA Cultural Affairs Department (2010).  Their work has been discussed in the New Yorker, New York Times, LA Times, Artforum, Art in America, Frieze, various international newspapers, and in José Muñoz’s Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity.  My Barbarian is Malik Gaines, Jade Gordon, and Alexandro Segade.


1 – Kristiaan P. Aercke, Gods of Play: Baroque Festival Performances as Rhetorical Discourse (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1994).


February 11, 2012 8:00 am
March 11, 2012 5:00 pm
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