Some Dirty Secrets

John Barker – Dirty Secret No.8 (Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart)

This strange publication, Dirty Secret, by John Barker, seems to have no website. It arrived in the post yesterday unbidden, eight editions of it, from No.1 to the very latest.

It is a collage of quotations which build into something far larger, even stranger and more sinister. This comes out of a larger project on fabric and colonialism. Dirty Secret appears to be a container for the excess emissions, a political patchwork of overdrive. The latest issue, No.8, apparently exists in the very specific time corridor of October 15, 2016 to Jan 15, 2017.

This one is titled ‘Bitter Abstraction’, which is taken from a quote by Henri Lefebvre. It tells us that Malevich’s tomb has been erased to build luxury apartments. That sort of thing.

Monkeys, arseholes. Training dolphins to swim with machine guns. All of these things leer out of Barker’s explorations of the twentieth century mushroom cloud, which is currently morphing into the twenty-first.

The format is ingenious. Although after all, what are published papers but collages of quotes? This publication simply lays out the citations and images to create something real, but open.

I always forget that this sort of thing can get money in Europe. There it is, at the back. A full roll call of sponsorship logos, from Baden-Baden and Kunst everywhere else.

The dirty secret for us in the UK is that we don’t and now won’t.

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