Nothing Gets Lost in the Universe
Covering the walls of Barker's third solo - Nothing Gets Lost in the Universe at the Galerie Frank Hanel in Germany - were latex gloves containing objects found on the streets of Frankfurt. Suspended from the roof in one of the rooms was a vast work called Zelbst - over 300 portraits of the black urban classes in South Africa in the 1970s. They were unclaimed photographs which had accumulated over time at Popular Picture Framers in Johannesburg, where Barker had purchased them years earlier.

Perhaps slightly naively, he describes Zelbst in terms of the "haunting dignity" of the subjects and as being about "the love of self". He signposted the room with the words "Love/Amor", fragments of Chile spilling over into Frankfurt, and echoes, he says, of a personal rite of passage.

In truth, showing alongside Zulu Lulus, the black period portraits were a complex web of social, personal and artistic representation. Although these pictures could just as easily have been read as victims - the nameless thousands that disappeared in Chile or vanished from police cells under apartheid - they posed far more difficult questions than the frontline unrest pictures that had earlier characterised South African photography.

How are we seen? How do we see ourselves? Who frames us? Through whose voice are we talking? One has to wonder what the subjects of the photos would think if they knew that they were on display on the other side of the planet. Like the bits of discarded Frankfurt in latex, they had been reclaimed from the street, exiled, romanced and frozen in time as products.

Frankfurt in Latex


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