Polaroids & parody; Barbeau finds art

Former Goat employee Jeff Barbeau makes whimsical mixed media found art and text despite having no formal background in art.
Former Goat employee Jeff Barbeau makes whimsical mixed media found art and text despite having no formal background in art.

Who: Jeff Barbeau

What: “Bromides” exhibition

Where: The Sleepless Goat

Medium: Mixed media including photography, found objects, text

What inspired the project “Bromides”?

My friend Vincent Perez and I are collaborating on a bookwork project called “Bromides.” He is a graphic designer and flaneur in Halifax. Besides being a type of sedative, a bromide is a tired, usually clichéd statement often used to make someone feel better. My life appears to be one bromide after another.


What do you hope to get across with your art?

Our lives are completely conventional. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It simply means that we are forced to make ourselves at home in a place that we did not create. From the very start we are subjected to norms, marketing campaigns, the Internet and Barbara Walters. And if you ask me, this isn’t a recipe for quietism. It simply means we need to continually work at negotiating our identities, never stopping to assert, “Finally, this is the real me.” For instance, I used to like unicorns. Now I like Lululemon.

Your art makes use of found objects paired with text. Is the text inspired by the objects or do you already have the text in mind?

As far as I know, half of the objects are inspired by the text, and the other half were written after several visits to Value Village. I would like to thank the staff there for not calling mall security. I thought I wore those gray jogging pants to the store, but I was full of malarkey.


Did you have all of these objects already or did you seek them out?

Many I had collected over the years, but I was so lucky to have found a signed portrait of Elvis Stojko. I needed to find a velvet painting of geese or the show was off. I searched high and low for a clock with the poem Footprints. That was when my ship officially came in.


Who are some of your top three favourite artists and what are your top three favourite things?

I don’t know from art, but I like to read. At the moment my favourite writers are George Saunders, Lydia Davis and Jack Pendarvis. I also like when dogs meet each other in the park.


Do you think more art should have a sense of humour?

Far be it from me to say what art should have. I studied English.

Since I can’t paint, draw or do decoupage, I have to resort to doing cutesy things. I won’t lie to you: pointing out how funny things are is all I have. In the end, we are all parodies upon parodies of ourselves. Did you know there are 15 seasons worth of Survivors? They are in China now. All poetry should cease.

Do you think the Sleepless Goat as a venue for the display of your work lends to a unique viewing experience?

I worked at the Goat for four years. They put up my show as a favour. It would be a scandal if it was shown anywhere else. For Pete’s sake: I am a charlatan that likes to drink his coffee underneath his own Polaroids. Eating a breakfast burrito beneath a Lamborghini Countach can’t hurt.

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