For Andrew Barco’s Pale Blue Eyes participant were lined up outside of Defibrillator and were seated or asked to stand in certain places to observe the performance. On one side of the space there was a small radio and on the other side Andrew Barco stood at a light table using a razor and a dentist’s pick. He was scraping and chipping away at a small translucent cube of silicone dioxide. Participants standing around Barco, who were given pink surgical masks, peered over each other’s shoulders as if watching a surgical performance. Audience members on the side of the room near the radio listen into a stethoscope whose receiving end was taped to the glass of the light table.
After a few moments, a crackling voice emanating from the radio asked if, “the woman in the black dress could stand.” While Barco continued to scrape away at the silicone, the audience member received instructions from the disembodied voice about the next part of the performance. Barco pulled a pair of tweezers from one of the draws beneath the light table and used it to pick up the small piece of silicone, but he quickly lost hold of the item and it dropped to the floor. Barco went down to the floor to recover the silicone and stretched out his hands to keep other audience members away.
Unable to locate the silicone Barco opened another draw in the light table and removed a rectangular wooden box that held another piece of silicone. This was placed on the light table and Barco resumed chipping away at this piece. Once again he used the tweezers to pick up the silicone he than slowly circled throughout the audience displaying the item. As Barco moved away from the light table the audience member was instructed to move toward the table and remove wooded dodecahedrons from one of the draws in the light table.
The audience member then placed the items on the light table and returned to the other side the room. As the audience member was working Barco continues to move around the room allowing the full audience to see the silicone piece between the pair of tweezers. Barco returned the silicone to its wooden case, placing the case along the small path between the two groups of audiences.
The radio then instructs the same audience member to return to the light table and remove concrete buttons from the same draw that held the dodecahedrons. She returns with the buttons to the side of the room with the radio, where the voice then reveals that the tape was recorded a week ago yet they (the audience member and the disembodied voice) are connected. The audience member was then instructed to hold the concrete buttons above her head in an uncomfortable manner.
Meanwhile Barco removed the light table and placed a small pedestal near the vacated space. He removed items from the light table and placed them on the small pedestal. He presents each item to the audience and then looks as the item and exclaims, emphasizing a different word each time, “Why are we still doing this?” The items are: A small can of Vienna sausage, liver cleans, an empty plastic film reel, a beaker with blue liquid solution inside, a clock set to the hour of four, and a small piece of bread (Barco reminded the audience that bread in French is “pain”).
Barco then pointed to each item carefully emphasizing a particular notion about each as he called out what they were again. A small can of Vienna sausage, liver cleans, an empty plastic film reel, a beaker with blue liquid solution inside, a clock set to the hour of four, and a small piece of bread called pain in the French language. All the while the audience member on the other side of the room continued to take instructions from the disembodied voice. Because Barco has spoken, it is now clear that the voice on the radio, that was recorded a week ago, is that of Andrew Barco himself.
Barco repeated the cycle of objects again, this time he picked up each item and emphasized a particular aspect about it. Holding up the small can of Vienna sausage he said: “We can.” Holding up the liver cleans he said: “deliver.” Holding up the plastic film reel he said: “real.” Holding up the beaker he said: “solutions.” Holding up the clock he said: “for our.” And holding up the small loaf of bread he said: “Pain.” With all the items jumbled in his arms he said: “We can deliver solutions for our pain.” The performance ends as Barco walks among the audience repeating this phrase and struggling to hold each item in his hands.
Photo by Ahyun Kim
Ross Jordan is a project manager in the Department of Exhibition and Exhibitions Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where he recently received a dual masters degree in art history and arts administration. Before moving to Chicago, Ross completed a yearlong studio fellowship at Trinity College and a yearlong internship in the Department of Painting and Sculpture at MoMA. After moving to Chicago in 2010 Ross has worked to create dialogue between arts administrators and artists through studio visits and cross-disciplinary events. His most recent independent curatorial project was In/visible (2012) at Co-Prosperity Sphere in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood.