(In Process) “Alter Pieces,” a new artist book that examines the altar and its relation to gender, identity, loss and desire. To be published in Spring, 2019.
Developed in correspondence with research in art history, “Alter Pieces” will include photographic reproductions of Barbour’s paintings and sculptures, along with an essay and poem. Spanning the years 2004 to 2018, the book explores the altarpiece as a subject of enquiry that is open to interpretation. Barbour refers to these works as “Alter Pieces,” in reference to the altern, from the Latin alternus, meaning the other, or the interchangeable.
For example, Birth of a Child (2016) is based on Lorenzetti’s altarpiece titled The Birth of the Virgin, however Barbour’s recreation makes explicit the source of the miraculous birth by exposing her genitalia. The book will include paintings of saints, genealogical trees, madonnas and sculptures — all of which address the theme of desire and absence. In addition to the visual art, the book will also feature an essay and poem by the artist.
“[…] By filling the void with copious designs in a kind of horror vacui, the missing body is resurrected, literally enshrined in a container; encased in a shroud of dynamic folds, of interlacing vines and fruits. Thus “power” is embodied at the intersection of being and nonbeing, of semblance and disintegration. When faced with mortality, we may run in the opposite direction, incited by terror and a surge of adrenaline. Thus, to contemplate the possibility of an afterlife is to be engaged in a perpetual mystery, an investigation into the potentiality of life itself. […] “
From “Alter Pieces” by Carol Barbour.
Running to the Tower: an artist writing on her paintings
Carol Barbour: Toronto, 1997. Limited edition of 50; signed and numbered. 40 pages, 9 colour photocopies of original oil paintings. Photocopy. 8.5 x 7. Hand-bound; b & w line drawing wrap-around cover. Prose, poetry, and paintings. Human Architecture; the Body. Towers, pilgrimage, bones, history.
Collections: Artexte, Montréal, QC.
Reviewed by Rob McLennan, Word, April 1998. “In this book, part art catalogue, part essay and poetry collection, she takes fragments of the idea of the tower, whether refuge, religious structure, Babel, phallic object and beyond, to create a whole – ‘Limestone kilns, / bridges, / dovecotes, / towers, / invite the comparison / of human form and architecture….’”
Votive Spindle Whorl
Carol Barbour: Toronto, 1993. Limited edition of 50, numbered. 36 pages, 21 b & w original line drawings and frames; 1 b & w coin rubbing; 8 found illustrations. Photocopy. 8 x 6 ½. Hand-bound; cover beige cardstock with bumblebee decal. 22 poems encapsulated in hand-drawn frames. Language and Art, nature, indigenous culture, and human relationships.
Reviewed by Dan Bortolotti, Shift, fall 1993. “Most small presses operate on shoestring budgets, so it’s usually forgiven if the chapbooks they publish are nothing more than photocopies on cheap paper. But occasionally the small press scene produces a true craftswoman like Toronto’s Carol Barbour. A painter, illustrator, poet, and fiction writer, she combines these several talents to produce some extremely attractive books. The visuals that surround each of these poems enhance their impact and make this chapbook a remarkable piece of art.”
Exhibitions at Bookworks, AKA Artist’s Centre, 1993, Saskatoon, SK; Bookworks 93, Harbourfront Centre, 1993; Book Fairs in Toronto,1993-1996; Red Head Gallery, Samuel J. Zack Gallery at York University.
Collections: Louisiana State University (Andrei Codrescu Collection of Outsider Literature); National Gallery of Canada; Virginia Commonwealth Library.
Slips of Nature
Carol Barbour: Toronto, 1991. Limited edition of 100; each book signed and numbered. 48 pages, photocopy, 9 x 6. 6 color photographs (including author photo); 21 b & w line drawings; 7 colour photocopies of original paintings. Hand-bound with variable covers and fabric trim.
27 poems that examine ecology, landscape, urban life and human relationships. Lyrical and experimental, the poems explore nature and the resilience of life forms despite adversity. Experimentation with visual art and poetic text. Ecology, philosophy, imagination, sources of inspiration, etymology. Artist’s writings, drawings, and paintings.
Reviewed by Judith A. Hoffberg in Umbrella, May 1992. “Included are poems, fragments and quotations based on such themes as fertility, landscape, garden versus wilderness. Drawing on Emerson’s Nature, the author has taken cuttings from life and grafted image to the text… the illustrations are shaped, fitting into drawing frames, creating an artistic environment for the words… bridge poetry and art, combining text and image in an aesthetically remarkable way.”
Exhibited at Basel Art Print Fair; American Librarian Association Conference, Chicago; Small Press Book Fair, New York; Ontario College of Art; York University.
Collections: Virginia Commonwealth Library; British Library; National Gallery of Canada; Western University; University of Alberta.
The Wind People
Carol Barbour: Toronto, 1990. Artist’s novella. In the midst of climatic upheaval, a group of disenchanted people join in the study of the Wind. Characters include an actress turned activist, a clinician with a secret passion for poetry, clammy administrators, and a housewife turned into an investigative journalist. Speculative fiction and experimental poetry on a utopian social experiment of artists, academics, activists and fund-raisers. Art, politics, inspiration, environmentalism, relationships, dystopia, sexuality, anthropomorphism, climate change, dreamscape, satire.
Reviewed by Judith A. Hoffberg in Umbrella, May 1992. “We see a society creating new solutions to the environment, to natural phenomena… a sly commentary about our society through the eyes of Fluvialists and Ventusitums. A brilliant solution to publishing.”
Limited edition of 100, signed and numbered. 140 pages. Illustrated with photographs, line drawings, acetates, colour zerox copies of paintings tipped in. 7 b & w line drawings; 9 colour photocopies of original paintings; 2 b & w photographs (one on blue paper); 2 b & w drawings on acetate. 8 ½ x 5 ½. Binding: perfect; adhesive coating over colour photocopied cover.
Collections: National Gallery of Art; Virginia Commonwealth Library; Banff Centre; Western University; Alberta College of Art and Design; British Library.
William Basso and Carol Barbour. Toronto: Reflex-ion Press, 1984. Poetry chapbook. Limited edition of 100. Cover art by Mark Curry. Original lino print by Carol Barbour on back cover. Features “Jeswin and Jerry”, a long poem by Carol Barbour.
Collections: E.J. Pratt Library, Victoria University, Amherst College Library.
Archival collections: Franklin Furnace Artist File, Museum of Modern Art.