Esther Schipper, Seoul is pleased to present Beginning What and Ending Away, Rosa Barba’s first solo exhibition in Korea. On view is a film installation, three kinetic sculptures using celluloid, a wax sculpture and works from her series entitled Weavers, panels of woven film.
Internationally known for her innovative use of the film medium and its conceptual investigations, Rosa Barba has exhibited at major museums worldwide. Among presentations in institutions are the Centre Pompidou, Paris (2023), Tate Modern, London (2023), PICA, Perth Australia (2023), Villa Medici, Rome (2022), Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin (2021–22), Armory Park Avenue, New York (2019), Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Palacio de Cristal, Madrid (2017), Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan (2017), Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt (2016), and the MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, MA (2015). Rosa Barba‘s work is held in major institutional collections.
Rosa Barba’s practice merges films, sculptures, installations, live-performances, text pieces, and publications that are grounded in the material and conceptual qualities of cinema. Questions of composition, physicality of form and plasticity play an important role for the artist as Barba interrogates the industry of cinema with respect to various forms of staging by inviting the viewers to participate in her cultural observations. Her film works are situated between experimental documentary and fictional narrative. They often focus on natural landscapes and human-made interventions into the environment and explore the relationship of historical records, personal anecdotes, and filmic representation, creating spaces of memory and uncertainty.
In The Window Barba’s large-scale sculptural work from her series Weavers echoes the form of a window frame. Similar to cloth, the surface is created from interlaced vertical and horizontal film strips that loop around a frame. Rotating slowly, light both passes through and is reflected by the woven tapestry of blue and transparent celluloid film.
With a film, a wall-mounted kinetic work and a smaller Weavers work, the second floor demonstrates the breadth of Barba’s varied practice. Screened by a 16mm projector, Radiant Exposures—Facts Run on Light Beams These Days, 2022, the film installation combines important themes of Barba’s filmic works. Depicting a field of panels concentrating and collecting solar energy in the desert, the juxtaposition of landscape and human-made environment recalls other sites the artist has portrayed. A brief section of the film features a text passage that highlights the entanglement of image and writing in the artist’s work. The kinetic work, Poised Compression, 2023, consists of a wall-mounted case with three spools that turn to tighten and loosen strips of 35mm celluloid, as if in a continuous dance of abstract forms. The work belongs to a series the artist has referred to as “cinematic paintings.” The three works demonstrate the poetic versatility of Barba’s use of film as narrative element, sculptural material, and even as a painterly medium. With their wall-mounted rectangular shapes and abstract motifs, both Weavers and Poised Compression recall in distinct ways the history of painting.
On the third floor, a new kinetic sculpture, Lines within and between are seldom pieced off with neat end punctuation, 2023, constructs a cube structure from metal and film, the letters on the celluloid’s frames forming a short poem circling around the aluminum frame. Color Rhymes, 2023, another wall-mounted “cinematic painting,” features a central spool around which multi-colored strips of film are coiling and uncoiling to create animated spiraling patterns. Nearby a sculptural work made from wax, Isolation of Information (roller), 2015, further emphasizes the role of language in Barba’s work. Using found letterpress components to cast a cylindrical stamp with lines of jumbled characters, the work invokes a wealth of references.