Rosa Barba

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Rosa Barba (born 1972, Agrigento, Italy) is a German-Italian visual artist and filmmaker. Barba is known for using the medium of film and its materiality to create cinematic film installations, sculptures and publications. She exhibits in galleries and museums internationally.[1]

Life and career[edit]

Rosa Barba began at a young age to work with film. She very soon began experimenting with moving images using super 8 film. From 1993 to 1995 she studied Theater and Film Studies in Erlangen, Germany. During her studies at the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne (1995–2000) she made her first 16mm film Panzano (2000) in which three characters struggle to assign parts among themselves.[2]

Barba has travelled and taken part in several residencies; amongst others in the two-year residency program at Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam (2003-2004), Production-in-Residence program, Baltic Arts Center Visby (2006), Villa Aurora, Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles, USA (2006), IASPIS Stockholm (2007-2008) and the Artists-in-Residence-Programm of Chinati Foundation, Marfa, Texas (2013).[3][4]

She is part of a group of artists that addresses the importance of film and analogue technology in the digital age along with other contemporary practitioners such as Matthew Buckingham, Tacita Dean, Luke Fowler, Ben Rivers etc.[5]

Barba lives and works in Berlin.

One of her works, ‘PARACHUTABLE’ was donated to the Rijksakademie and sold by auction at Sotheby’s Amsterdam ‘Global Contemporary, Rijksakademie’ – a big fundraising sale of approximately 120 Contemporary works of art, for the benefit of the Rijksakademie Artists' Endowment Fund, which will support present and future generations of talented artists working at the Rijksakademie by covering their research and production cost. [6]


Barba's work has been shown in exhibitions worldwide. In 2018, solo shows of her work will be presented, amongst others, at Tabakalera, International Centre for Contemporary Culture, San Sebastián, and at Kunsthalle Bremen. Other recent solo shows include the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Palacio de Cristal, Madrid (2017); Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan (2017); Malmö Konsthall (2017); CAPC musée d'art contemporain de Bordeaux (2016-2017); Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt (2016); MIT Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, MA; Albertinum in Dresden; Center of Contemporary Art, Vilnius (2014); MAXXI, Rome (2014); Turner Contemporary in Margate (2013); Bergen Kunsthall (2013); MUSAC in Castilla y Leon (2013); Kunsthaus Zürich (2012), Jeu de Paume, Paris, (2012); Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis; Fondazione Galleria Civica, Trento, and MART, Rovereto (2011); Kunstverein Braunschweig (2011) and Tate Modern, London (2010).

Barba has participated in the 52nd and 53rd and 56th Venice Biennale. At the 56th Biennale All the World's Futures, curated by Okwui Enwezor (2015), Barba exhibited Bending to Earth (2015). She participated in the Liverpool Biennale in 2010, in the 2nd Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art as well as in various festivals and other biennials. In 2010 she curated the group show A Curated Conference at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid with works from the collection. Afterwards the exhibition was the inspiration for the films The Hidden Conference I-III, which were performatively filmed in various museum depots.

Amongst other references, her work relates to avant-garde film and Speculative fiction.

Barba's works belong to collections such as Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Hamburger Bahnhof - Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin, Museo Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, MACBA, Barcelona and Kunsthaus Zürich.

Speaking about her participation in Performa 2013, Rosa Barba explains how she feels about live performance versus film/cinema: "My Performa piece brought a film to a live performance by using cinema as a new kind of stage. I created a new 35mm film, which was performed as a live event on the cinema screen in Anthology Film Archives’ screening theatre, whilst being fragmented around the space on 16mm films and filmic sculptures, which repeated an individual formal aspect, such as a sentence or a sound. Whilst almost behaving like characters, or stand-ins for the viewer, these films also interact with one another as though they were a splintered ensemble, fading in and out, and accompanied by an electronic musical accompaniment created by Jan St Werner of Mouse on Mars, and a group of professional voiceover actors who were performing live dialogue from various points in space. Subconscious Society – Live is an attempt to archive the last century, suggesting a paradigm shift, which is represented in the form of a social community, inhabiting a transitional realm, as they make a final attempt at assigning and archiving objects from the past. Here the past exists only as a reference to itself and the details of the present are not fully decipherable yet." [7] Also in this interview, she talks about her influences: "Literature has influenced personal and is exposed in my various work. I like to situate my work in a timeless, more precise space – space with a lot of layered time, so the exact time can’t be deciphered anymore, acted out by sound, images and text."[8]


Barba's films develop from situations that form societies and landscapes. By using her film camera like a drawing instrument, she outlines and relates directly with the formal properties of an object. She investigates environments and weaves stories of place and people into fictitious narratives that open up new possibilities for interpretation.

For example, in the film Outwardly from Earth's Center that was produced on the Swedish island Gotland during the winter 2006 as a Production-in-Residence project for the Baltic Art Center in Sweden, Barba collaborated with the local inhabitants, who also performed in the film, to create narratives and form characters as the filming progressed. Outwardly from Earth's Center is constructed around a fictitious society living on the truly existing island of Gotska Sandön, which drifts approximately one meter per year and. The depiction of the small society trying to hold up the disappearance of the island develops into a surrealistic atmosphere that slowly but surely replaces the experience of what one might consider a beautiful documentary with a more abstract and somewhat absurd picture of people's struggle and vulnerability.

Sculpture & installation[edit]

Barba's sculptures and installations are created from the physical and conceptual components of film which become dissected, abstracted, compiled and arranged anew. The roles and relations of the various components are questioned and newly defined: the mechanical objects move, speak and become main protagonists in the exhibition space.

For example, the piece Boundaries of Consumption (2012) features a 16 mm projector directed at film cans with silver globes balancing while the film runs through. The shadow of this spatial set up is projected as moving images on the wall, changing in colour and appearance over time.


Since 2004 Barba has been publishing a series of printed editions parallel to her films as another form to express and dismantle the cinematic organism. She conjugates its repertoire while she disbands and defines the relationships and hierarchies between image and word and like between image and viewer anew. The series Printed Cinema which won the artist book award 2006 at the Ontario Association of Art Galleries is published for specific exhibition spaces and accompanies her films as secondary literature for a limited time. The printed editions present an extended and free form of the exhibited film which reveal the filming process including research material and unused filmic fragments. The edition exists beyond the duration of the film. The filmic projection is translated into printed material and confronted with its conditions, its materiality and temporality. Through the comparison of both media the emphasis on image, language and text and their relationships and overlapping themes are shifted into a new light.

Filmography & sculpture[edit]

  • Solar Flux Recordings, 2017
  • A Shark Well Governed, 2017
  • Enigmatic Whisper, 2017
  • Stellar Populations, 2017
  • Unprocessed in States, 2017
  • Blind Volumes, 2016 / 2017
  • Disseminate and Hold, 2016
  • From Source to Poem, 2016
  • The Color Out of Space, 2015
  • Bending To Earth, 2015
  • The Hidden Conference: About the Shelf and Mantel, 2015
  • Definition Landfill, 2014
  • Subconscious Society - a Feature, 2014
  • Conductor, 2014
  • Only Revolutions (...abrasion of space...), 2014
  • This Space Populated by Infinite Colors (Lee Filters CL 158 - 029), 2014
  • The Long Poem Manipulates Spatial Organizations, 2014
  • RED, 2014
  • Perpetual Response to Sound and Light, 2013
  • Subconscious Society, 2013
  • The Contemplative or The Speculative, 2013
  • Voces, 2013
  • Still Anchored in One Point from which They Emerge, 2013
  • Enterprise of Notations, 2013
  • Time as Perspective, 2012
  • Color Clocks: Verticals Lean Occasionally Consistently Away from Viewpoints, 2012
  • Boundaries of Consumption, 2012
  • Recorded Expansions of Infinite Things, 2012
  • Coupez Ici, 2012
  • Sun Clock (Novel), 2012
  • The Hidden Conference: A Fractured Play, 2011
  • Somnium, 2011
  • Stage Archive, 2011
  • Theory in Order to Shed Light, 2011
  • Optic Ocean, 2011
  • The Long Road, 2010
  • The Hidden Conference: About the Discontinuous History of Things We See and Don't See, 2010
  • A Private Tableaux, 2010
  • The Empirical Effect, 2010
  • Invisible Act, 2010
  • The Indifferent Back Of A View Rather Than Its Face, 2010
  • Free Post Mersey Tunnel, 2010
  • I Made a Circuit and Then a Second Circuit, 2010
  • Let Me See It, 2009
  • Coro Spezzato: The Future Lasts One Day, 2009
  • Time Machine, 2009
  • They Come and Go, 2009
  • Outwardly from Earth's Center, 2007
  • They Shine, 2007
  • Waiting Grounds, 2007
  • It's Gonna Happen, 2005
  • Parachutable, 2005
  • Machine Vision Seekers, 2003
  • Split Fields, 2003
  • Panzano, 2000


Selected solo shows:

  • Rosa Barba: Drawn by the Pulse, Tabakalera, International Centre for Contemporary Culture, San Sebastián, curated by Cristina Cámara Bello (2018; upcoming)
  • Rosa Barba: Between Objects in the Waking World. Void Contemporary Art Centre, Derry, Northern Ireland, curated by Mary Cremin (2018)
  • Rosa Barba: Solar Flux Recordings, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia - Palacio de Cristal, Spain, Madrid (2017)
  • Rosa Barba: Solar Flux Recordings, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia - Palacio de Cristal, Spain, Madrid (2017)
  • Rosa Barba: From Source to Poem to Rhythm to Reader, Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan (2017)
  • Rosa Barba: Spacelength Thought, Secession, Vienna (2017)
  • Rosa Barba: Elements of Conduct, Malmö Konsthall (2017)
  • Rosa Barba: From Source to Poem, CAPC musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux, France, Bordeaux (2016)
  • Rosa Barba: Thoughts of Sorts, Parra & Romero, Madrid (2016)
  • Rosa Barba: Blind Volumes, Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, Germany, Frankfurt (2016)
  • Rosa Barba: The Color Out of Space, Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (n.b.k.), Berlin (2016)
  • Rosa Barba: The Color Out of Space, MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge MA, USA curated by Henriette Huldisch (2015)
  • Albertinum, Dresden, curated by Hilke Wagner (2015)
  • The Color Out of Space, EMPAC in Troy, New York, USA (2015)
  • Rosa Barba. The Mute Veracity of Matter II, MAXXI, Museo Nazionale delle Arti del XXI secolo, Rome (2014)
  • Artpace, San Antonio, Texas, USA, curated by Rita Gonzalez (2014)
  • Turner Contemporary, Margate, UK, curated by Lauren Wright (2013)
  • Cornerhouse, Manchester, UK, curated by Henriette Huldisch (2013)
  • Time as Perspective, Bergen Kunsthall, Norway, curated by Solveig Øvstebø (2013)
  • MUSAC, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Castilla y Léon, Spain, curated by Juan de Nieves (2013)
  • CAM St. Louis, Missouri, curated by Kelly Shindler (2012)
  • Jeu de Paume, Satellite, Paris, curated by Filipa Oliveira (2012)
  • Kunsthaus Zürich, curated by Mirjam Varadinis (2012)
  • Kunstverein Braunschweig, Braunschweig, Germany, curated by Hilke Wagner (2011)
  • Stage Archive, Foundation Galleria Civica- Center of Research on Contemporary Art, Trento und MART d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto, Italy, curated by Chiara Parisi und Andrea Villiani (2011)
  • Centre International d'art et du paysage de l'île de Vassivière, France, curated by Chiara Parisi and Andrea Viliani (2010)
  • Center of Contemporary Arts, Tel Aviv, Israel, curated by Sergio Edelsztein (2010)
  • TATE Modern, London, United Kingdom, curated by Ben Borthwick (2010)
  • Nam June Paik Award 2010, Museum Kunst Palast, Duesseldorf, Germany, Düsseldorf (2010)
  • Terra Infirma, International Studio & Curatorial Program, USA, Williamsburg (2010)
  • BERLIN-PARIS: Carlier | Gebauer: Group Show, Galerie Michel Rein, Paris, France, 3e (2010)
  • Rethinking Location: Anytime, Anywhere, Everything, Sprüth Magers Berlin, Germany, Berlin (2010)
  • Behind the Curtain, Gio Marconi Gallery, Italy, Milan (2010)
  • Art Unlimited, Art Basel, Switzerland, Basel (2010)
  • The Moon is an Arrant Thief, The David Roberts Art Foundation, UK, London (2010)
  • Fokus Łódź Biennale 2010, Fokus Lodz Biennale, Poland, Lodz (2010)
  • ABC Art Berlin Contemporary 2010, ABC Art Berlin Contemporary, Germany, Berlin (2010)
  • A Despot In Flora's Garden, Simon Preston Gallery, USA, Lower East Side (2009)
  • Western Round Table, Carlier Gebauer, Germany, Berlin (2009)
  • SOLARIS, Gio Marconi Gallery, Italy, Milan (2009)
  • Life Forms, Bonniers Konsthall, Sweden, Stockholm (2009)
  • Degrees of Remove, SculptureCenter, USA, Long Island City (2008)

Awards (selected)[edit]

  • PIAC - Prix International d’Art Contemporain (International Contemporary Art Prize), Fondation Prince Pierre de Monaco (2016)[9]
  • Nam June Paik Award, Internationaler Medienkunstpreis der Kunststiftung NRW (2010; together with Ali Kazma)
  • Premio Italia Arte Contemporanea, MAXXI, Rome (nominated; 2010)
  • Short Tiger Award (nominated; 2017, 2010, 2007)
  • Prix du Centre pour l'Image Contemporaine, Genf (2007; 12th Biennale of Moving Image)
  • Atelierstipendium, Kölnischer Kunstverein, Köln (2007)
  • Artist Book Award for Printed Cinema, Ontario Association of Art Galleries, Canada (2006)
  • Förderpreis Film, Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Berlin (2006)
  • HAP-Grieshaber-Preis, Kunstfonds, Bonn (2006)

Further reading[edit]

  • Barba, Rosa (2017). From Source to Poem. with contributions by Manuel Borja-Villel, Giuliana Bruno, Joan Jonas, Elisabeth Lebovici, Roberta Tenconi. Hatje Cantz/Pirelli HangarBicocca with Malmö Konsthall. ISBN 9783775743266
  • Alemani, Cecilia: Rosa Barba interview by Cecilia Alemani, klat no. 2 (Spring 2010): 18-35
  • Barba, Rosa (2012). Back Door Exposure. Jeu De Paume. ISBN 978-29-15704-32-7.
  • Barba, Rosa (2016). The Color Out of Space. Eds. Henriette Huldisch, Karen Kelly, Barbara Schroeder, MIT List Visual Arts Center/Dancing Foxes Press. ISBN 9780985337797.
  • Barba, Rosa (2011). White Is an Image. Eds. Chiara Parisi and Andrea Viliani, Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz. p. 293. ISBN 978-3-7757-3019-8.
  • Barba, Rosa: Contribution to Film. Eds. Tacita Dean and Nicholas Cullinan, Tate Modern, 2011
  • Barry, Robert: Les Marques Aveugles. (January 16, 2012)
  • Bell, Kirsty: Suspended Animation. Frieze, (May 2011): 118-121
  • Borthwick, Ben and Gronlund, Melissa: Rosa Barba: Changing Cinema. (November 12, 2010)
  • Casadio, Mariuccia: Light Shaped. VOGUE ITALIA no. 7 (September 2011)
  • Cooke, Lynne: Suspended Stories: Rosa Barba's Strategic Narrativity in Rosa Barba, White is an Image. Eds. Chiara Parisi and Andrea Viliani, Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2011, p. 165-213
  • Grzonka, Patricia: Rosa Barba- Weisses Licht erhellt die Nacht. Kunst Bulletin (Presse de Suisse). (August 17, 2012)
  • Lebovici, Élisabeth: La porte dérobée comme cheval de Troie: Rosa Barba au jeu de Paume. (May 23, 2012)
  • Lebovici, Élisabeth: Looking for Rosa Barba in Rosa Barba, White is an Image. Eds. Chiara Parisi and Andrea Viliani, Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2011, p. 45-95
  • Manacorda, Francesco and Malasauskas, Raimundas: Rosa Barba's Unfilmed Films in Rosa Barba, White is an Image. Eds. Chiara Parisi and Andrea Viliani, Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2011, p. 97-110
  • Marchand, Antoine: 02 n° 63. Rosa Barba. Revue d'art contemporain trimestrielle et gratuite. (Autumn 2012): 18-24
  • Micucci, Marjorie: 'Rosa Barba. Les Tempos d'un paysage choral'. Revue trimestrielle Mouvement (mars-avril 2013.
  • Petresin-Bachelez, Natasa: On Performing the Traces That People Leave Behind in History in Rosa Barba, White is an Image. Eds. Chiara Parisi and Andrea Viliani, Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2011, p. 133-155
  • White, Ian: Rosa Barba. Camera Austria, no 101 (2008): 21-26.
  • White, Ian: An Idea in Three Dimensions in Rosa Barba, White is an Image. Eds. Chiara Parisi and Andrea Viliani, Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2011, p. 7-39


  1. ^ Rosa BarbaMade in Germany 2, 08 Feb 2012
  2. ^ Alemani, Cecilia: Rosa Barba interview by Cecilia Alemani. klat, no. 2 (Spring 2010): 18–35
  3. ^ Archived 2013-10-15 at the Wayback Machine.Official Website
  4. ^ "Grant Recipient Details - Rosa Barba - Villa Aurora (en)". Retrieved 2015-12-08.
  5. ^ Film: Tacita Dean (The Unilever series) (London: Tate Publishing, 2011)
  6. ^ "Global Contemporary Rijksakademie". Archived from the original on 2017-12-22.
  7. ^ Elmquist, About the Author Becky (2014-03-21). "Real Talk in Marfa with Rosa Barba -". The Style Con. Retrieved 2017-03-11.
  8. ^ Elmquist, About the Author Becky (2014-03-21). "Real Talk in Marfa with Rosa Barba -". The Style Con. Retrieved 2017-03-11.
  9. ^ [1]

External links[edit]