My Barbarian's Counterpublicity is a staged video performance based on an essay about Pedro Zamora, AIDS activist and star of the Real World: San Francisco, written by José Esteban Muñoz in his book, “Disidentifications.” The three members of My Barbarian re-perform scenes from The Real World in an alienated style, resisting the affect of "reality tv" even as they interrogate its politics, contrasting these scenes with the embodied performance of 90s-inspired music videos, with lyrics adapted from Muñoz's theory of Queer counterpublic spheres that operate against the dominance of racism and homophobia.
Commissioned in 2014 as part of ALTERNATE ENDINGS, a program of seven videos that bring together charged moments and memories from their personal perspective amidst the public history of HIV/AIDS.
About the artists
For two decades, the members of My Barbarian— Malik Gaines, Jade Gordon, and Alexandro Segade—have used performance to theatricalize social issues, adapting narratives from modern plays, historical texts, and mass media into structures for their performances, videos, music, writing, installations, and exhibitions. Founded in 2000, My Barbarian was the subject of a 2021-2 survey exhibition and performance program at the Whitney Museum of American Art, which included a monograph published by the Whitney Museum and Yale University Press. The group’s work has been presented at LACMA, The Hammer Museum, REDCAT, SFMOMA, MoMA, The Studio Museum in Harlem, The Kitchen, The New Museum, Participant Inc. and many other U.S. venues; and internationally at Museo El Eco, Mexico City; DeAppel, Amsterdam; Townhouse Gallery, Cairo; The Power Plant, Toronto; El Matadero, Madrid, and others. They were included in two Performa Biennials, the Whitney Biennial, two California Biennials, the Montreal Biennial, and the Baltic Triennial. My Barbarian has been supported by USA Artists, the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, the Mike Kelly Foundation, Art Matters, the City of LA Cultural Affairs, and others. According to Catherine Quan Damman, in Artforum, My Barbarian bring “high-theory arcana into bawdy populist forms, marshaling their multicultural demographics to burlesque liberal fantasies of the melting pot, and vamping the world historical only to burn it down and throw a party around the flames.” My Barbarian is represented by Vielmetter Los Angeles.