GEORGE BARBER / SCRATCH!
TACO! presents SCRATCH! - an exhibition of works by the influential British Video artist George Barber. Focusing exclusively on a specific approach in Barber’s oeuvre, that of his appropriation of moving image. Barber has employed appropriation throughout his career, starting from the early 80’s until the present day. The exhibition presents 12 works made between 1983 and 2006.
George Barber’s work is as generous as it is non conformist , irreverent and funny. Operating somewhere between bedroom DJ and slacker cultural provocateur, much of his work has a humility, playfulness and frivolousness that appears to give one in the eye to popular culture and the high - mindedness of ‘Art’.
Barber’s use of appropriation starts with his early experimental ’Scratch Videos’ a style Barber pioneered in the early 80’s. Using early VCR machines Scratch was marked by its use of pre existing video footage to produce montaged images overlaid with graphics, special effects and music. Scratch Video and its DIY aesthetic was shown in clubs and galleries. It challenged the status quo of video based art at the time, influencing not only other artists but club culture, music videos and TV.
Scratch Video works like TILT (1983) and Scratch Free State (1984) employ pulsating montages infused with electric colour palettes, and club music to explore the aesthetic qualities of video. In later Scratch works Barber makes use of popular movies or documentary footage. Yes Frank No Smoke (1985) and Absence of Satan (1985), Arts Council GB Scratch (1988) deconstruct narrative , turning dialogue, sounds and images in to rhythmic sequences with playful and revealing results.
In the 90’s and 00’s George Barber started using and remixing adverts - repurposing and redirecting them to new ends. Barber’s appropriation of adverts - ‘ad busting’- cheekily critiques the staged desires that underlies consumer culture. In Following Your Heart Can Lead To Wonderful Things (2006) Barber remixes the empty phrases and visual stanzas of ads, their familiarity undercut by the uncanny and delirious effect of repetition.
In Schweppes Ad (1993) Barber sings to music over the top of a remixed version of an ad for the fizzy tonic water - “I’m unwaged, but I’d like a drink anyway” “Oh babes can you get me another drink, would you get me another drink babes”.
Barber’s amateur attempts at soulful singing mock the fake promise and sexual charge of a bubbling, overflowing Schweppes bottle. A fitting responce to a ridiculous image.
The exhibition is supported by lottery funding from Arts Council England