Barry Sykes (Born 1976, lives and works in London) uses a combination of sculpture, performance, works on paper, photography, video, text, interventions and public events in attempts to quantify experience, tracing a line at the edge of inappropriate, absurd or unnecessary behaviour. His work adapts or subverts basic handmade or digital techniques to examine the odd, awkward and overlooked in everyday life. Working in collaboration, on residency or in the isolation of the studio, recent projects have involved laughter yoga, forgery, tests of memory, a talk in a planetarium, woodwork, typography, an acting class, and series of feedback forms.
Recent solo exhibitions include 'Sociable Hermit', University of Bath, Somerset, UK; "it must be told", Enclave, London, UK; Recreate a Nervy Pistol? (An Early Retrospective), Plymouth Arts Centre, Plymouth, UK; 'The Desperate Designer, Gallop, London (Part of the London Design Festival) and I Was Born The Day Heidegger Died (But I Don't Know Much About His Work), i-cabin, London. Recent events have been presented at Kings ARI, Melbourne; Arnolfini, Bristol; Limoncello, London; The Showroom, London; Spike Island, Bristol; Tate St Ives, Cornwall; Tate Modern, London and the Immersive Vision Theatre, Plymouth.
Selected online texts and videos.
- Ignite Micro-Lecture, Pecha Kucha overview of University of Bath residency
- In Conversation with Edwin Burdis and Jamie Eastman, Arnolfini
- Interview with Yvette Gresle on FAD
- Audience review of 'It must be told.' on Arnolfini website
Barry Sykes Edit, Video Art selection for Charlotte Troy's 'Artist Talks' website.
- Interview for Hayden Kays' 'I the God' blog
- Exhibition Review of 'Recreate A Nervy Pistol? (An Early Retrospective)', ArtsCulture, by Natalie Craven
- 'Exhibitions of the Week', The Guide, The Guardian, by Skye Sherwin
Artist Profile, ArtRabbit.com, by Dani Admis
- Keep Him Talking, expanded talks series
- The Apocralypse
Of Owl Peril, commissined text for Low Profile publication 'Here's To Another Ten', published by ICIA, 2013
- A Pro Bono Practice, for 'Bring The Dead Back To Life' anthology, Bookworks, 2012
- Some Questions About Artist Residencies. For 'Don't Look Back', Platform gallery 10th anniversary publication, 2010
- On The Nude Beach, for 'The Earth Not A Globe' exhibition catalogue, Rokeby Gallery, London, 2009
“Barry Sykes's life as an artist has taken him down some offbeat, and perhaps not strictly legal, avenues. His artworks-cum-social experiments include impersonating a part-time police community support officer and replicating/ripping off work by such strange bedfellows as romantic minimalist Cerith Wyn Evans and painter Karel Appel. He's even got his dad to realise work for him, as with a series of photos carried out according to his instructions. Trust, originality and morality rank among this trickster's quarry, in projects that unpick what goes on behind the scenes in art.”
-Skye Sherwin, The Guardian
“(His works) are as witty and pithy as any fable, but without the overt links to morality, they covertly revise the way we engage and assess any situation (...) If there were any overt point or truth to these works it is Sykes' engagement with others as a stark refusal to settle for essentialism, in any form. Rather each work becomes an amalgamation of each person's subjective experience, habits and techniques (...) A work like the Dad Directives or The Ongoing Song reveals the limits and impossibility of objectivity, and the dialectic of power and control for artists working today who engage in collaboration, or even more loosely as an artist.”
-Dani Admiss, ArtRabbit.com
“Stuck for things to do and waiting for latex to dry, I went to the Arts Centre to find some inspiration. Barry Sykes is the resident artist and he was awful, worse than Gilbert and George and that last video installation of a woman smashing a bike with a baseball bat. Why would you want to re-enact being a PCSO?! What's the point? Or am I missing the point?”
-Hannah Helmsley, hannahhemsley.blog.com
For other writings, book projects and bibliography please see my CV.