Glitter and dirt; earthbound objects and slices of psychedelic space; the white cube and the club: these pairings are all present—and at odds—in Sadie Barnette’s exhibition, Composed and Performed. The exhibition is minimal in the simplest sense of the word, consisting of just four new works. The disjointedness between these discreet pieces also makes Composed and Performed initially difficult to read. Barnette is clearly an artist of the post-medium-specific age: the single photograph, the lone installation, the solitary sculpture, and the artist’s book (several copies of which are present) are as different from one another as the works of four separate artists.
The broad reach of the verbiage supplied by the gallery to explain Barnette’s work mirrors her aesthetic eclecticism. While it indicates that the work somehow corrals her various interests—among them “extralegal economies, luxury as drug, counterfeit capitalism, glitter as hypnotic, outer space as head space, the everyday as gold, family and lived identity experience, and the party”—the complexity of thought present in Barnette’s work goes beyond this laundry list of sparkling abstractions.1 What is most striking in the works in Ever Gold’s three rooms is an exploration of entropic degradation and the contours of distinction that define both our past from our present (or future) and ourselves from that which we are not.
Entropy is a natural process of degradation: the movement from order to eventual chaos, or “maximal disorder.”2 Of the four works in the exhibition, the two of most interest in terms of this idea are grouped together in a small central room. Along the wall, Barnette’s untitled installation is composed of numerous white frames leaning against a wall in a loosely arranged stack and, in an adjacent corner, a vintage audio receiver, painted a clean white and partially buried in a pile of dirt on the gallery floor. These two works function to mark different points within the same system. The blankness of Barnette’s audio receiver unmoors the object from the specificities that once defined it: its brand, its indicators, and even its worn quality that may have developed from years of use. Simply painted in a neutral tone, this piece of equipment is transformed from a functional object to a symbolic one. With the strength of its neutrality, this audio receiver can stand in if only momentarily for the entirety of the analogue age. The dirt that surrounds and covers the receiver is the product of entropy, the final stage in a material degradation of matter.