Had you visited Trade Routes, curated by Okwui Enwezor at the Electric Workshop for the 1997 Johannesburg Biennale, and made your way towards the back and up a floor or two you would have looked down upon The World is Flat - a stark and astonishing sight.

Barker's huge new piece was a map of the world constructed from 3 000 army uniforms and 2 000 green beer bottles. At the southernmost tip of Africa was a neon sign reading VOC - the logo of the DutchEast India Company (DEIC).

It was the DEIC's commercial fleets - heroes of the apartheid history books - that instigated South Africa's earliest colonial land wars and forged a trail for the Boers to eventually settle in the interior and claim a republic. In 1652 the Cape colony was established by the DEIC when the trading company set up a refreshment station under Jan van Riebeek - to stave off scurvy on the voyage north. Soon enough the indigenous Khoikhoi people were enslaved, beginning a campaign of resistance in 1659. The station would become a British settlement and a military base would be established at its heart, today known as The Castle of Good Hope.


Scurvy
It was at The Castle in 1995 that The World is Flat began its life as Is the World Flat? - on a show called "Scurvy" organised by Barker, Kevin Brand and Brett Murray - in which they recolonised the military museum and claimed it for contemporary culture.

For Barker it was a milestone and a political victory. Particularly considering that in order to construct his work - in the very first room ever built at the Castle - he would have to request materials from the army. In 1995 the Defence Force was trying desperately to incorporate the former resistance armies into its ranks. "I had to negotiate with them," says Barker. "I told them it's all about forgiveness."

Today Barker says that "Scurvy" was the first time that he began to think globally about his work. That he was looking at identity.

What were his own colonial origins? Was the VOC logo - the first multi-national logo in the world - a bit like the Coca Cola logo today?

In a press release for "Scurvy" he added: "Is this how we see the world through the media? Through a flat plain of images?"

Storming the Ramparts


Wayne Barker: Artist's Monograph
Introduction
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
Biography
Photo Credits & Works