Carlier | Gebauer

Rosa Barba

02 May - 13 Jun 2009

© Rosa Barba
Western Round Table 2027, 2007
2 x 16mm film, 2 x projector, 2 x loop, optical sound
"Western Round Table"

May 2nd - June 13th, 2009
Opening May 1st 2009, 4-9 pm

Rosa Barba’s films construct utopias, possible worlds, which evolve from a craving to take action, which is produced by the voids and displacements of our everyday reality. Those displacements are what Barba’s films often start from; their characteristics lead her to filmic interweavings of realities and potentialities. In her use of film formats, celluloid and projectors, Barba is assembling an installative set up for an artistic production in which film is employed to register asynchronicities and breachings in past and present. Barba’s films follow those traces, but not to dissolve into nostalgia, but rather to destille images of an inhomogeneous reality, in which utopia is always already subsisting. In her reconstructions of reality, fictionalty turns into the lever of a politicizing gaze.
From the 1st of May 2009 carlier | gebauer will present Barba’s film installation “Western Round Table” (2007) in the project space. The installation is part of a trilogy of film works, the two others of which, „They Shine“ and „Waiting Grounds“, were both shown at the Torino Triennale and at the Kunsthalle Basel. All three share a geographical starting point, the Mojave desert in California, which is where Barba recorded the sceneries of “They Shine” and “Waiting Grounds”. Both films show images of abanonned or only mechanically inhabited places, which are crossfaded with audio material, adding a suggestive second layer to the filmed material. “Western Round Table” relates to those places in memorizing a conversation on the situation of modern art, which the California School of Fine Arts had initiated there in 1949, and in which, amongst others, Marcel Duchamp and Frank Lloyd Wright took part. There are group photos of this meeting but its exact location remains unknown. Rosa Barba imagined to have found it and translated this anticipation into a montage of situated memories. “Western Round Table” is the most abstract and yet the most sculptural of the three works. In a darkened space two 16mm projectors are directed towards one another projecting each other’s shadows on the walls. Mechanically rattling they seem like monuments of an industrial past. Their shadows are tracing the mechanical movements, while the sound of their motors is complemented with another element of vague memory, fragments of a soundtrack which Enrico Morricone once composed for Federico Fellini, rearranged by Rosa Barba together with Jan St. Werner.
Barba’s “Western Round Table” presents a sculpture of fragmentary knowledge, which is constantly rearranged but never completed. Named after a conversation, which, just after the break down of modernist utopianism searched for the future of modern art, the work itself is a conversation between different layers of time. Like the abandoned military architecture in „Waiting Ground“ and the seemingly endless lines of reflectors in „Waiting Grounds“, „Western Round Table“ evokes the idea of a displaced monument of modernism after its end. This monumental character, the asynchonicity, which Barba forges with her use of the filmic devices, is guiding the gaze onto the always brittle images and machines, which stand in for a reconstructed praxis, also approximated in the second work shown at carlier | gebauer. The large format silscreen print „Time Machine“ (2007) meticulously phrases the script of a feature length movie that was never filmed. Rosa Barba wrote its script in reference to H.G. Wells novel „Time Machine“ (1895). The scenes, the dialogues and narrations are displayed in endless rows of black letters on whitened canvas. The silkscreen print here replaces the projection of images, the work itself becomes a ‚still’. In Barba’s works traces of the past are breaking into the present, demonstrating its permeability. The „Time Machine“ seems to be Barba’s continuous mode of artistic production, in which she follows up modernities in themes, places and machines, opening up the utopian perspective of another reality.
This year, works of Rosa Barba will be shown at the Venice Biennale as well as at the Bonniers Konsthall in Stockholm. At the End of 2009 the exhibition „Italics“ curated by Francesco Bonami for the Palazzo Grassi in Venice, will tour to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and in May Barba will be showing in a show curated by Cecilia Alemani for Gió Marconi in Milan. In Autumn 2009 works of Barba will be presented in a large group show at carlier | gebauer and in Spring 2010 a solo exhibition will follow.

Tags: Rosa Barba, Marcel Duchamp