Simeon Barclay is interested in how we construct and perform our identity. Drawing on advertisements, magazines, television and music, he combines images of culturally significant moments and figures with his personal memories to understand how we define and situate ourselves within society.
Barclay uses references from popular culture from his time growing up in the north of England to explore masculine and feminine roles and the expectations of society. Images of footballers, actresses and objects such as a car illustrate how we perform gender. Barclay blurs fiction and reality by adapting a scene from the television drama Boys from the Blackstuff, which refers to class, masculinity and unemployment in 1980s Britain, and collaged images of characters from Viz comic’s The Fat Slags and gymnast Haruhiro Yamashita.
Argentinian footballer Diego Maradona scoring the ‘hand of God’ goal at a time of strong nationalism in England after the Falklands War, Liverpool’s first black footballer Howard Gayle, and a reference to the use by Margaret Thatcher of the word ‘swamped’ to describe immigration all allude to conflicts surrounding the shaping of British culture and identity.
The use of slick, industrial materials reflects Barclay’s time working in industry as well as the aspirational lifestyle presented in fashion magazines. Video clips of Calvin Klein advertisements and a filmed performance by American artist Martha Rosler further deconstruct the power of images, their ability to seduce and provoke, and their intrinsic link to consumption.