Michael Barrett: "Memories for the Future"Monday, March 31 – Friday, May 23, 2014Clark County Government Center Rotunda Gallery, 500 S. Grand Central Parkway, Las Vegas, NVReception on Friday, April 25 from 6-8 pm with artist talk at 6:30 pm in the Pueblo Room.
Michael Barrett’s "Memories for the Future," is an interactive and site-specific project developed for the Clark County Government Center in honor of military volunteers. The exhibit will be on display March 31 through May 23 at the Clark County Government Center Rotunda Gallery, 500 S. Grand Central Parkway near downtown Las Vegas. A reception will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday, April 25, with an artist talk at 6:30 p.m. in the Pueblo Room. Acknowledging the presence of the artist, the project offers an ephemeral experience for the performer and audience which cannot be captured or purchased. As a former United States Marine, the artist recognizes and understands a need for healing that he hopes this project will bring to the dialogue of contemporary society.
Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom have been two of the longest and most controversial wars in United States history. With Nevada having lost 50 of its residents during these foreign conflicts, "Memories for the Future" touches home on a personal level. A stated goal of this project is to avoid commentary about war itself, but rather to serve solely as a memorial to those government employees who have paid the ultimate price. By separating the issue of the service of the individual men and women from the issue of U.S. policy in the Middle East, the intention of this project is to begin a process of national reconciliation.
The project is scheduled for 8 work weeks, which includes 5, 8 hour work days (Mon. - Fri. 9 am - 5 pm), totaling 320 hours over 40 days. Over the 8 week time span, Barrett's mission is to create a tangible, yet fragile symbol of recognition, mirroring the circular footprint of the Government Center Rotunda. Using a Kevlar ballistic apron, a book, metal polish and nearly 7,000 U.S. pennies dated between now and 2001, Michael is to individually shine each penny, while creating a spiral mosaic on the floor.
Crawling on his knees while following the spiraling labyrinth, as a conscious ritual for growth, he dedicates his sole attention to every penny and delicately acknowledges their very importance to the make up of the larger picture. The movements between the inner (intuitive, intangible) world and the outer (matter, manifested) world are mapped by the spiraling of archetypal rings, marking the evolution of humankind on both an individual and collective scale.
Michael Barrett draws inspiration from his experience as a former U.S. Marine, cancer survivor and college athlete. Echoing conflict situations of the past, Michael incorporates the body as site, subject and relic of his happenings, while negotiating situations, in which, corporeality and gender are pushed to extremes. Barrett's work encompasses performance, video, installation, sculpture, photography, drawing, sound and writing. Through this practice, his body becomes a metaphor for larger social, political and personal issues.
In 2013 Barrett was recognized by the Las Vegas Weekly and Las Vegas CityLife publications as "One to Watch." Additionally, the San Francisco Foundation acknowledged Barrett as a recipient of the 2009 Murphy and Cadogan Fellowship. Over the past 13 years, he has performed, among other locales, in Mexico, Italy, England, France, Germany, the Netherlands, the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery, Scope International in Basel, Switzerland, PSi 19 at Stanford University, Surface Gallery, U.K., SOMArts in San Francisco, Las Vegas Contemporary Arts Center and Krowswork in Oakland, California.