After watching every small detail of the 1994 election drama unfold at the CBS bureau, Barker felt it was again time to travel. As a child his parents had taken their holiday at the same camping spot in Malangane on the seemingly idyllic Mozambique coastline each year. That was before civil war wracked the country, fuelled by South African arms.

Coke Adds Life
Now, returning to Mozambique for the first time since he was ten, Barker was horrified by the aftermath. One particular memory of the trip he translated into an installation called Coke Adds Life for the Read Contemporary. Visiting a hospital he was startled by the short supply of medicines and facilities. The only operational equipment was a Coca-Cola vending machine. You could buy a Coke but not primary health care.

A bit like the chaos and the bombings of South Africa's transition to democracy, the end product of Barker's experience was one of the more expressive sessions he has embarked on: tucked in the back of the gallery was a room with exploding hearts of neon, spilling AK47s and ceramic doves, muti jars and cold drink bottles and press photographs.

Steadily, in later installations, Barker would construct his beautiful clutter with more conceptual precision, but even in the jumble of Coke Adds Life his concerns were clear: the value of a life in Africa, the blazing trail of cultural imperialism, trade, and groovy neon and war.

The Heart of Neon

Wayne Barker: Artist's Monograph
Vienna Calling
60's Suburbia
Johnny Rottenism
Anyone for Tennis?
Fourteen Days in Hell
The Bad Art Attacks
The Famous Five do Downtown
Fragments of a Murder
Have you Hugged a Fascist Today?
Landscape with Target
Blood Money
Le Monde a L'envers
Bigotry on a Stick
The Heart of Neon
Divorce in Paradise
The South African Thing
Storming the Ramparts
The Wax Hand
A Love Story
Frankfurt in Latex
The Talking Curio
Back to Basics
Dirty Laundry
A New Kind of Freedom
Photo Credits & Works