Artist Debra Barrera joins CAMH Director Bill Arning and Toby Kamps, Curator of Contemporary Art at the Menil Collection, for a discussion on themes and influences explored in her exhibition Avalon, curated by Arning.
In Avalon, Debra Barrera’s ongoing exploration of the very human desire for escape is explored in drawing, installation, and objects. In her earliest mature works, she focused on modes of transportation combined with cinema—both methods of getting outside of or away from one’s present circumstances. She identifies far way places real and unreal, accessible and impossible, and provides hints of how we can get there from wherever we are. In this installation, drawings of unlikely escapes, such as the puff of smoke the Wicked Witch used to vanish in the Wizard of Oz, are mixed with motorcycle helmets and taxi lights that all but declare “get me out of here.” The installation employs the real exits of CAMH using pink and black, respectively, to make the existing emergency exit and trap door appear to promise alternative escape routes. The title Avalon refers to an imaginary place that derives from our shared mythic histories, which when sung by Bryan Ferry in Roxy Music’s Avalon, was the perfect location for unreal romance.