Rosa Barba (born 1972, Agrigento, Italy) is a Berlin-based visual artist. Barba is known for using the medium of celluloid and its materiality to create cinematic film installations, sculptures and publications. She exhibits in galleries and museums internationally.
Life and career
Rosa Barba started working with photography at an early age when she inherited a camera. She very soon began experimenting with moving images using super 8 film. During her studies at the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne (1995–2000) she made her first 16 mm film Panzano (2000) in which three characters struggle to assign parts among themselves.
Barba has travelled and taken part in several residencies; the two year residency program at Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam (2003-2004), Production in Residence, Baltic Arts Center Visby (2006), Villa Aurora, Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles, USA (2007) and IASPIS Stockholm (2007-2008) among others.
She is part of a group of artists that addresses the importance of film and analogue in the digital age along with other contemporary practitioners such as Matthew Buckingham, Tacita Dean, Luke Fowler, Ben Rivers etc.
Rosa Barba's work considers the situations of cinema, whether it be the physical characteristics of celluloid, light, projector and sound, the structures or narrative, or its often improbable people, places or stories. Barba takes a sculptural approach to film, often taking apart its elements to create new mobile objects or directing the camera at objects and landscapes with a particular attention to form.
Barba's films develop from situations that form societies and landscapes. 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 Arts 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 on a drifting island in danger of disappearing. Gotska Sandön drifts approximately one meter per year and the depiction of the small society trying to stop the movement 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
Barba creates filmic sculptures and installations that take apart the physical and conceptual elements of cinema to create new objects. 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, projecting an image on the wall that changes colour and appearance over time. Barba's filmic sculptures are often moving, speaking and acting as protagonists in an exhibition space.
In 2010 Rosa Barba won the Nam June Paik Award, exhibiting her installation Coro Spezzato, The Future Lasts One Day (2009) at Museum Kunstpalast. Coro Spezzato was originally exhibited at the 53rd Venice Biennale 2009. The piece is based on Venetian polychoral singing styles invented during the Renaissance and composed of five 16 mm projectors instead of church choirs. Words are projected on the gallery walls echoing a chorus as a solo and a duet. "It was about melodies you couldn't hear but which your brain started to create unconsciously... When I heard the sound, it created a melodic fantasma like an audio trompe l'oeil" writes Budde.
This echoes the words of artist and curator Ian White when he notes that Barba's works involves a "subtle interrogation into and co-option of industrial cinema-as-subject via various kinds of what might be understood as 'stagings'—of 'the local', the non-actor, gesture, genre, information, expertise and authority, the mundane—removals from a social realism within which they were observed and which qualifies them as components of the work, to be framed, redesigned, represented. The effect of which contests and recasts truth and fiction, myth and reality, metaphor and material to a disorientating degree that ultimately extends into a conceptual practice that also recasts the viewer's own staging as an act of radical and exhilarating reversal—from being the receiver of an image (a subject of control) to being in and amongst its engine rooms, looking out."
Printed Cinema won the artist book award 2006 at the Ontario Association of Art Galleries and is a series of printed matter that is published alongside Barba's film projects since 2004. They attempt to reveal and unravel the cinematic organism and stressing the ephemeral nature of the image's surface through printed matter.
- Subconscious Society, 2013
- Time as Perspective, 2012
- The Hidden Conference: A Fractured Play, 2011
- Somnium, 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
- Let Me See It, 2009
- Coro Spezzato: The Future Lasts One Day, 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:
- 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, Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis, USA, curated by Kelly Shindler (2012)
- Jeu de Paume, Satellite, Paris, France, curated by Filipa Oliveira (2012)
- Kunsthaus Zürich, Switzerland, 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 and MART d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto, Italy, curated by Chiara Parisi and 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)
- Cinema Prospectif, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France (2009)
- Baltic Art Center, Visby, Sweden, curated by Johan Pousette (2006)
- Alemani, Cecilia: Rosa Barba interview by Cecilia Alemani, klat no. 2 (Spring 2010): 18-35
- 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. www.frieze.com (January 16, 2012)
- Bell, Kirsty: Suspended Animation. Frieze, (May 2011): 118-121
- Borthwick, Ben and Gronlund, Melissa: Rosa Barba: Changing Cinema. www.afterall.org (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. le-beau_vice.blogspot.fr (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
- 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
- Rosa BarbaMade in Germany 2, 08 Feb 2012
- Alemani, Cecilia: Rosa Barba interview by Cecilia Alemani. klat, no. 2 (Spring 2010): 18–35
- www.rosabarba.comOfficial Website
- Film: Tacita Dean (The Unilever series) (London: Tate Publishing, 2011)
- Subconscious Society, curated by Rosa Barba, ICA Biennial of Moving Images, 2012
- Rosa Barba, Baltic Arts Center
- Gat, Orit: Dirty Projector: Rosa Barba's filmic sculptures. Modern Painters (June 2012) 19.
- Budde, Nine: Stopping by at a Friends Place, online art journal, Oct 2009
- White, Ian: An Idea in Three Dimensions in Barba, Rosa: White is an Image (Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2011) p. 11
- Ben Borthwick and Melissa Gronlund, Rosa Barba: Changing Cinema, Afterall online, 12 Nov 2010