Artist that I saw at Frieze: Rosa Barba

Information from:

Piece: Boundaries of Consumption

16-mm film, film cans, two metal globes, installation view Jeu de Paume, 2012

Exhibition: subject to constant change

The exhibition is a unique collaboration with Cornerhouse, Manchester that creates a multi-sensory, spatial experience showing the many dimensions of Barba’s practice, including recent film sculptures and a newly commissioned installation.

Barba playfully explores cinema’s material elements: the physical characteristics of film (light, projector, celluloid filmstrip, screen, and sound apparatus) and the structure of cinematic narrative.

‘In my work I don’t observe reality; I am reinterpreting it in a certain direction by making very personal decisions. I don’t pose critical questions; I am trying to invent a utopia by showing political and social mechanisms set against technical mechanisms which are themselves fragile. The paradox which results from such a tension is used to posit a utopian solution to the problem, a kind of magic which stops time and offers a slowed-down view of otherwise hidden aspects of reality. It offers an alternative reading of the past and also the future’.
Rosa Barba


Rosa Barba’s work pays homage to defunct celluloid, even though there’s only one film in her exhibition. The huge projector which hums in the background provides the gentle soundtrack to a silent film surveying the Kent and Margate coasts (pictured above: Subconscious Society, 2013 © Rosa Barba). Shabby, disused buildings and broken piers come into view, and a long aerial shot of the ribbed and undulating sand reminds us of the primordial nature of this stretch of land, before the invention of tourism.

But one can see that it’s the film projector, gleaming white in the shadows, that visitors are far more fascinated by than the moving image. Bisected to reveal its workings, the projector has become a lugubrious kinetic sculpture, a burnished object of admiration and wonder. In a second room, arranged like steadfast sentinels, stand a line of anatomised projectors. In jerkily hypnotic procession, loops of transparent film weave through delicate metal hinges. Whatever is on there, the projectors aren’t giving away their secrets.

© Ruth Zoe Andreas, all rights reserved