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Arts, Sports & Culture

Barlow's Art Extends the Carnegie International to Forbes Avenue

Mark Nootbaar
90.5 WESA

Carnegie International artist Phyllida Barlow makes big art. 

“I want to reach sculpturally into spaces that are beyond my reach. I’m not really interested in making monumental works, but more anti-monumental works,” Barlow said.

“I hope, despite their size, there is an intimacy within the way the sections, or the pieces, are actually made, that are all to do with being all well within my reach as a human being.”

The curators of the 2013 Carnegie International offered the museum’s Forbes Avenue entrance plaza to Barlow as a canvas, and she created a dense thicket of black wooden posts that are topped with a cement-covered steel mesh embedded with colorful ribbons.

Depending on your perspective, the work either reaches out from the front door, or tumbles from the street to into the museum.

“I hope that especially if the wind gets up and there is a sort of fluttering of the ribbons in contrast to the solidity of these posts with the cement and everything," Barlow said. "So I hope that that does have both the feeling that the thing is moving outwards and at the same time pulling people in.”

Barlow created the design after visiting the museum on a very cold day and noticing the austerity of the plaza. Barlow hopes that her installation nods to the city’s industrial past while also celebrating its present.  She also thinks the juxtaposition of an art museum and a museum of natural history being in the same building snuck into her creation.

A viewer can imagine an impressionist painting impaled on a dinosaur skeleton with the whole mix oozing out the front door.

Such a description would most likely not offend Barlow. 

“I’m not precious about it," she said. "I think during the time it’s here at the museum, I don’t know what will happen. Whether the ribbons will get cut off, whether people are going to climb over it … or even if things get stuck on it, but I think has to take that,” Barlow said.

The curators hope none of that happens.

Several of the pieces created for the International will be purchased and made part of the museum’s permanent collection, but due to its size it is unlikely that Barlow’s will be chosen. Barlow seems to be alright with that.

She said it might be nice to erect it in a remote location after the International closes. 

“Where perhaps it could just run its life span in some way and maybe over 10 or 15 years become something else.” Barlow said.

The Carnegie International opens Oct. 5 and runs through March 16, 2014.

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