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Devin Balara

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Statement

       The domestic space sets the stage for perpetual self-invention through re-modeling, re-painting, re-arranging and ultimately re-branding the material self. There exists a paradox between the necessity of unique, individual expression in the home and what is available for this expression – a slew of mass-produced, pedestrian objects propagated by big-box tastemakers, blogs and television shows. My work probes the distinctly human need for material signifiers of identity and the conflation of nostalgia, pre-fabricated banalities, and remnants of everyday life within the home.

       Self-invention manifests itself most desperately within the sprawl of middle-class suburbia - a culture defined by status and ease, success and sameness, sporadically punctuated by fascinating and dysfunctional attempts at differentiation. Experiences from my upbringing in the winding, relentlessly pastel suburbs of Tampa, Florida, such as the first shock of visiting a friend’s house with the exact floor plan as mine, established my fascination with the human tendency toward homogenized environments and objects. The standardized lifestyle and environment provokes an acute awareness of difference between neighbors, making one’s domestic identity as much about the self as it is about others. The pursuit of unique identities within the sprawl accounts for public displays, as in lawn-care and the home’s facade, as well as self-preservation in the interior. Color, décor and furnishings speak to one’s concerns for family, comfort, or austerity, and often include details intended to influence external perception, such as a coffee table book. Situational embellishment, exaggeration, and artifice epitomize the presence of material memory, obsession, and hysteria - underscored by the calm, outward composure of domesticity.

       I am drawn to upholstery remnants, paint, and other by-products of the home improvement industry. I reinvent these hardware store rejects using repetitive processes, performative gestures, and mass quantities to unearth the desperation and tedium inherent in material self-definition. I am concerned with signifiers of suburban identity and the symbolic objects that co-exist in the home environment with mass-produced ordinaria and prosaic décor. The objects, installations, and scenarios proffer space to reflect on objects’ potential for personalization, and question to what end a material-self can be realized.

 

Recent Exhibits

Devin Balara participated in these exhibits:

Apr, 2014 WASTELANDS: NOSTALGIA, ANXIETY, AND ANTICIPATION IN A POST-HUMAN WORLD
313 Gallery
 
Jul, 2012 Master Pieces 6
Manifest Creative Research Gallery and Drawing Center
 
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