Alter Pieces

New Artist Book published April 2019.

Alter Pieces examines the altar and its relation to gender, identity, loss and desire.

Carol Barbour: Toronto, 2019. Digital printing. Unlimited. 60 pages. 6 x 9.

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Developed in correspondence with research in art history, “Alter Pieces” includes 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 relational subject of enquiry. The term “Alter Pieces” refers 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 includes 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 also features 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.

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