Over a period of five decades, Phyllida Barlow has developed a highly idiosyncratic sculptural language centered on her experimentation with low-grade, inexpensive materials to create large-scale, anti-monumental works that reveal the dynamics of their making.
First exhibited in 2015 at Barlowʼs solo exhibition ‘tryst’ at the Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, ‘untitled: 100banners2015’ is a dense installation comprised of clashing, brightly colored fabric banners, draped haphazardly across unwieldy, painted timber flagpoles anchored with sand bags. The banners are placed so close to one another so as to make it impossible to pass through. Barlow, nevertheless, invites the viewer to navigate the sculptureʼs sprawling territory. As typical symbols of power and patriotism, banners mark territory, pledge allegiance, protest and parade; they are the standard markers of war and demonstrations. Yet Barlow deprives them of their proclamations: each banner is unadorned. Disassociated from their traditional function, they simply become vibrant fabric stretched across wooden poles. Potential remains, nonetheless, and although dormant they are primed for reactivation.
Curated by New York-based curator Gianni Jetzer, Unlimited is Art Basel’s pioneering exhibition platform for projects that transcend the classical art-show stand, including massive sculpture and paintings, video projections, large-scale installations, and live performances.
Image: Phyllida Barlow, untitled: 100banners2015, 2015
Timber, plywood, tape, wadding, fabric, paint, sand, plastic, cement, plaster
Overall approx. dims: 400 × 1300 × 1300 cm / 157 1/2 × 511 3/4 × 511 3/4 in
Installation view, Unlimited, Art Basel, Basel, Switzerland, 2017