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Nathan Barlex, Liverpool: a “fearful” art alarm

Allotrope of pyrolysis, 2010, by Nathan Barlex“Allotrope of Pyrolysis”, 2010, by Nathan Barlex • My first alarm is in a category all of its own: an art alarm. It’s a sculpture by recent RCA graduate Nathan Barlex, which I came across at this year’s Bloomberg New Contemporaries (an influential yearly show of up-and-coming artists). Most of his current work is painting, but he also uses appropriated materials, though whether his name – which bears an uncanny resemblance to Charlie Brooker’s hopeless Hoxton hipster Nathan Barley – is also appropriated, I have no idea. Speaking to Lydia Corry in Artvehicle 47, Barlex echoed my own thoughts on burglar alarms (though slightly more apocalyptically): “The alarm box is a ubiquitous object – it is everywhere. Alarm boxes have formed into a mini-culture of their own with a set of signifiers. There’s what’s printed on them; sometimes it can be an image of a dangerous animal, or a word like ‘thorn’. The shapes vary but they often use fearful geometric symmetry to imply an unnatural or even super-power. The icing on the cake is that many alarm boxes are just decoys, an empty promise filled with paranoia. They are the dubious uncle to the already malignant CCTV camera.” You can see his work at New Contemporaries at the ICA, London till Jan 23 2011, or visit the artist’s own Nathan Barlex website, where there’s another burglar alarm dipped in sand. • Spotted: Bloomberg New Contemporaries, A Foundation, Greenland Street, Liverpool L1, England, 2010 • Details: alarm box, spray paint, crushed charcoal, approx 30 x 30 x 10cm

Allotrope of pyrolysis, 2010, by Nathan Barlex

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