Rosa Barba Selected Works
This Online Viewing Room presents a selection of major works by Rosa Barba who recently joined the gallery, as well as an introduction to her new film and site-specific project in Cyprus, Inside the Outset: Evoking a Space of Passage, which was in part filmed inside the UN Buffer Zone.
Rosa Barba engages within the medium of film through a sculptural approach. In her works, Barba creates installations and site-specific interventions to analyze the ways film articulates space, placing the work and the viewer in a new relationship.
Questions of composition, physicality of form and plasticity play an important role for the artist as Barba examines the industry of cinema and its staging vis-à-vis gesture, genre, information and documents. 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.
Rosa Barba was born in 1972 in Agrigento, Italy. She currently lives and works in Berlin.
She studied at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne and has completed her PhD with the title On the Anarchic Organisation of Cinematic Spaces: Evoking Spaces beyond Cinema at the Malmö Faculty of Fine and Performing Arts, Lund University in 2018. She has been a visiting professor at MIT, ACT (Program in Art, Culture and Technology), in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Barba holds a professorship in Fine Arts at the University of the Arts, Bremen.
Her work has been exhibited at numerous institutions including: Wäinö Aaltonen Museum of Art, Turku (2020); ARTER, Istanbul (2019); CCA Kitakyushu (2019); Armory Park Avenue, New York (2019); Kunsthalle Bremen (2018); Remai Modern, Saskatoon (2018); Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Palacio de Cristal, Madrid (2017); Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan (2017); Vienna Secession (2017); Malmö Konsthall (2017); CAPC musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux (2016); Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt (2016); Albertinum, Dresden (2015), and MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, MA (2015).
Rosa Barba presents her filmic and artistic approach on the occasion of her 2017 solo exhibition at Pirelli HangaBicocca.
Inside the Outset: Evoking a Space of Passage
Inside the Outset: Evoking a Space of Passage, 2021
Inside the Outset: Evoking a Space of Passage is a project that consists of two parts: a film and a long-term open-air cinema installation.
Barba’s film was exclusively shot in Cyprus, including underwater shots of the Mazotos shipwreck, as well as aerial shots from archaeological sites. The film follows Barba’s artistic approach to examine liminal states which manifest in between contested spaces, both mentally and geographically, in order to allow for a new perspective.
The inaugural screening will take place in Spring 2021 at the open-air cinema installation built in Deryneia, inside the UN Buffer Zone.
In Inside the Outset: Evoking a Space of Passage Barba deals with the 180-kilometers "Dead Zone," the area that divides the Cypriot island in two parts. The project is a result of a seven-year process, when Barba first thought about building a cinema sculpture in the Buffer Zone of Cyprus.
The artist initiated the idea of an amphitheater with a permeable screen, on which the film could be watched from both sides, and accessed from all communities. Working within a political landscape, Barba sought to counterbalance existing images of conflict with a strong position expressing solidarity and openness.
Liberties is a sculptural elaboration of fragmented texts based on Susan Howe’s collection The Europe of Trusts, containing three of her books first published in the early 1980s: The Liberties, Pythagorean Silence, and Defenestration of Prague. As one of the most celebrated experimental poets of her generation, Howe (b. 1937) engages with historical, theoretical, and mythical references while expanding traditional notions of genre and disciplines.
By abstracting Howe’s text Liberties to its smallest unit, the letter, Rosa Barba assembles a new archive of fragmented narrations, rhythms and semantic layers.
Cast in wax, the letters become three-dimensional objects—in their seemingly fragile materiality, the framed wax pieces mirror the artist’s search for meanings and traces of ever-changing and infinite versions of narration bursting out of common dictions of rhythms.
AGGREGATE STATES OF MATTER
Aggregate States of Matter, 2019
Shot in the Andes, in Peru, Aggregate States of Matters is a large-scale 35mm film installation that deals with the increasing impact of climate change on remote areas. The film highlights the ambiguous relationship between humans and nature. Rosa Barba worked with communities that are affected by the melting of a glacier and geological time becoming exposed.
Barba shows the slow disappearance of the glacier and the perception of this fact within the Quechuan population in the Andes. While exploring different local myths, she outlines the possibility of translating ancient knowledge into the present time.
In my films I address human attempts to tame nature. Information is dispersed through imagery and acts as a survey of trace,” she says. “It is an investigation through layers of time and hidden interpretations inherent in unearthing the past, a metaphorical excavation that is interwoven in a new narrative, waiting for new meanings through images.
Stellar Populations, 2017
Stellar Populations was specifically developed for Rosa Barba's 2017 exhibition at the Secession in Vienna. The kinetic sculptural work shows a 35mm film strip meandering away inside a light box, driven by a motor. In the celluloid’s uncontrollable movements a both anarchic and playful element is manifest.
From Source to Poem
From Source to Poem, 2016
Shot in the United States, the 35mm-film features images from the largest media archive worldwide, the Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Conservation of the Library of Congress, located in Culpeper, Virginia.
From Source to Poem is an invitation to think about the spaces in which history and cultural production are preserved in order to be passed on to future generations by juxtaposing images from the media archive in Culpeper with a study of rhythm, and images of cultural production with those of industrial production.
In Rosa Barba’s film one hears the voice of a former slave, recorded among the two thousand and thirty first-person accounts of slavery collected in the nineteen-thirties by the WPA (Work Projects Administration)—plus other voices, superimposed and compressed, culled from the depths of history along with thousands of other available sounds—while the camera ranges this subterranean world via long corridors, passing offices, shelves, metal boxes, wires, boxes full of cassettes, headphones, and different projectors adapted to various image and sound formats.
Sight Enables Us to Appreciate Distance
Sight Enables Us to Appreciate Distance, 2013/2016
In Sight Enables Us to Appreciate Distance, the screen coincides with the actual source of the images. The backlit text piece is made up of approximately 132 meters of celluloid film which are set up in 24 lines running in different speeds.
The title of the work refers to a definition by French theorist Henri Poincaré (1850-1912): "However, sight enables us to appreciate distance, and therefore to perceive a third dimension." The text takes as a point of departure Poincaré's definitions and develops the philosopher's thoughts by interweaving them with one other.
I work with different ways of fragmenting cinematic language. Using 35-mm film in installations gives the subject of 'time' a more layered narrative, as opposed to the sculptural works that experiment with words and objects. I am always searching for new ways of dealing with my subjects, and orchestrating them together in the same space makes the most sense.
The Color Out of Space
The Color Out of Space, 2015
The 36 minute HD video The Color Out of Space forms part of a sculptural film installation which extends the probing of deep time into outer space. The video is composed of images of stars and space gathered at Hirsch Observatory at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and projected through five colored glass filters placed on a steel base positioned between the projector and the screen.
Spacelength Thought, 2012
In Spacelength Thought, a typewriter is typing a monologue onto 16mm blank film, projecting one letter at a time against the wall. During the projection, film accumulates progressively on the floor, almost as if—as the artist explains—"in a Turing machine a code were recited mechanically and unveiled through the projection, creating a kind of poetry line—an imagistic form of language: at the same time an enigmatic machine and an openly spread process."
Barba’s films, installations and publications all raise the question of cinema as a kind of writing.
Boundaries of Consumption
Boundaries of Consumption, 2012
Two metal balls move unpredictably on top of a stack of film cans. Their choreography is documented by two restless shadows contrasted with a colored film strip projected onto the wall. The celluloid passes through the pile of cans, randomly lifting and destabilizing it.
Within the interplay between instability and balance, the projector illuminates the balls and causes their movement and thereby exists as phenomenon and idea simultaneously.
The theme of 'instability' is something that all the works also have in common. The sculptural work emerges from a tension between its own elements—the result is something between a balancing act and a magic theater.
Color Clocks: Verticals Lean Occasionally Consistently Away from Viewpoints
Color Clocks: Verticals Lean Occasionally Consistently Away from Viewpoints, 2012
Three objects arranged in the space whose designs are reminiscent of the operation of a clock’s gear mechanism.
Within their open housings, red, yellow and blue 35mm film strips slide through a mechanic sets of rollers in a continuous loop.
The film strips are each imprinted with individual letters, spelling the three colors they represent, and suggest a form of text, albeit one which appears to have become obsolete in the space-time continuum.
Each of the objects moves its color at its own specific rhythm so that together a kinetic image is produced.