John Barnes Art

Eschatology Statement

ESCHATOLOGY 2009 Statement

ESCHATOLOGY - any system of doctrines concerning last, or final, matters, as death, the Judgement, the future state, etc.

This body of work deals with the plight of the "environmental refugee" whose personal connection to the physical world is abruptly or gradually erased, interrupted, and utterly devastated through natural or manmade disasters, war, or a rapidly changing climate. My perspective of this idea was shaped through the Hurricane Katrina disaster of 2005 in New Orleans, LA. I lost property, and a general sense of "normal". Through the language of sculpture I construct dialogues with viewers that draw heavily from the pallete of colors and textures that lie in the wake of natural disasters. In the twisted warped wreckage of former dwellings and work places I sought to find a connection to beauty through the landscape of disaster. I developed a visual language that I refer to as "disaster aesthetics". Within this P.O.V. is a combination of visual layers informed by damaged architecture, abandoned dwellings, graffiti elements, traumatized youth, and esoteric meanings.

Some of the common images that surfaced while I envisioned this project focus more on the societal class bias of the aftermath and the politics of rebuilding. Many of the historically black areas of the city were hit particularly hard afterwards with a very aggressive form of gentrification. This form of gentrification relied heavily on biased media coverage that painted a tense picture which positioned the city's desire to move forward against a depiction of the mostly black low-economic evacuated residents as having excessive criminal/ anti social tendencies.

Within the design of these small dwellings, I combined the two primary concerns of people who were affected by the Katrina disaster: a flooded home, and water. I merged these two interests into the form of hybrid vessels comprised of houses and sinking boats (inverted prow). Some of the vessels are clearly more linked to houses and some take on very subtle humanoid features, with an emphasis on making them seem dark and unfriendly. Many of the Katrina-affected dwellings were later set ablaze by squatters or mysterious individuals, so I chose to affect each piece with fire and soot.

Ultimately, I want viewers to consider their own dwellings and sense of routine and readiness. This issue of disasters is more relevant today internationally then it was when this series was developed.