Itziar Barrio. WE COULD HAVE HAD IT ALL .2013. HD video 9’21. Video still

S2A is pleased to present Itziar Barrio: WE COULD HAVE HAD IT ALL.

In this multi-layered digital video, Itziar Barrio takes a line borrowed from popular music as the departure point for an elaborate exploration of performance, language, politics, and sexuality. Drawing its title from the chorus of British pop star Adele’s 2011 smash single, “Rolling In The Deep,” the work pays homage to the global appeal of Adele’s music while inquiring into the myth-like notion of total fulfillment.

The work is set inside the Teatro Arriaga, an historic theater in Barrio’s native Bilbao. A sequence of slow tracking shots and luscious stills, inspired by segments from Adele’s Live at the Royal Albert Hall concert video, capture an ornate interior, emptied of spectators yet intermittently haunted by the voices of two female poets asked by Barrio to collaborate on the project by responding to the lyrics in Adele’s hit song.

Maialen Lujanbio, whose voice can be heard as the video opens, is a Basque poet who practices an improvisational form of sung poetry known as bertsolarismo. Chavisa Woods, whose words follow in subtitle shortly thereafter, is an American writer living in New York. Reflecting on the social, economic, and erotic dimensions of fulfillment and its frustrations, the two poets enter into a dialogue with one another and with their pop star counterpart. Portrayed with vivid sensuality, the vacant theater itself becomes another performative figure with which the poets interact. As the video’s soundtrack—based on a looping Adel sample—slowly builds, the intertwining of music and image, Basque and English, song, text, and speech creates a viewing experience in which the conventions of public performance are redistributed like the sexual sensorium described in Woods’s poetry.

In its present installation, the stark contrast between the classically styled proscenium depicted in the video and the subterranean space in which the piece is projected echoes the juxtaposition in the work between the global spectacle of popular culture and more local and intimate modes of engagement. This in turn reflects a prevailing focus in Barrio’s artworks on the interplay between idealism and pragmatism, the universal and the particular.