Turner Contemporary has announced the most comprehensive solo presentation to date by celebrated Italian-German visual artist Rosa Barba, Subject to Constant Change. Both exhibition spaces will, during similar time periods, each present a distinct part of a newly commissioned film work, designed to be exhibited in different cinematic and sculptural formats in each of the two galleries. Also featuring other recent film-sculpture works in both venues, the show will provide audiences with a multi-sensory, spatial experience, showing the many dimensions of Barba’s practice.
Subject to Constant Change explores the wide range of Barba’s works, with its enquiry into the physical characteristics of film including celluloid, light, projector and sound, or the structure of cinematic narrative, and its occasionally improbable people, places or stories.
Barba’s new film, Subconscious Society, will be shot on location in an abandoned theatre in Manchester and landscapes in Kent. Cornerhouse and Turner Contemporary teams will conduct research around existing communities to seek out participants who have a special connection to the places, or partake in collective activities of ritual or contemplation. Once Barba has found her subjects, the film will be created through a performative collaboration between artist and participants, recording scenes that are improvised and largely unscripted. Together they will then construct a loose fictional narrative connecting the protagonists to the places the film passes through. The final result will be an engaging encounter with characters whose identities, pasts and futures are never secure, and of alienating landscapes and architectures expanding beyond the screen into the gallery space. Rosa
Barba added “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”.
In keeping with the material’s shifting points of view and fragmented voices, this extraordinary new multi-platform film installation will then be exhibited in distinct ways, responding to the galleries’ unique architectures. At Cornerhouse, the commission will be presented as a theatrical cinema with synchronized elements of different films playing together in one stage. Gallery 3 will incorporate multiple 35 and 16mm projections onto a large, suspended screen, using the film projectors and the material itself as a physical presence in the space. A continuous film projected from the rear is at various points punctuated by short scenes from the front. The exhibition will also feature Barba’s work Coro Spezzato: The Future Lasts One Day (illustrated above left), originally exhibited at the 53rd Venice Biennale in 2009.
At Turner Contemporary, Subconscious Society will appear in a dispersed, exploded form, manifesting itself in a series of interrelated filmic sculptures installed throughout the gallery space. In addition, the show will exhibit a number of Barba’s recent film sculptures, including Boundaries of Consumption, 2012, (illustrated above right) which take apart the film apparatus, exploring the character of celluloid, light, and text. Barba’s work here will be presented alongside a number of perspective studies by J.M.W. Turner chosen by the artist, connecting Barba’s exploration of different viewing positions with Turner’s much earlier investigations.
Sarah Perks, Director of Programme & Engagement at Cornerhouse, said: “Cornerhouse is delighted to be collaborating with Turner Contemporary and producing both a new commission with Rosa Barba and an innovation exhibition across both sites. Rosa is one of the most exciting contemporary artists pushing boundaries of film, sculpture and installation and especially interested in working with communities in both Manchester and Margate.”
Victoria Pomery, Director of Turner Contemporary, added: “We are very excited to be working with Rosa Barba and Cornerhouse on this new commission. The series of little-known, wonderful perspective drawings by JMW Turner perfectly complement Rosa’s new commission.”
Rosa Barba (b. 1972, Sicily, Italy) lives and works in Berlin. Barba studied at the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne and the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam. Her solo exhibitions include Centre international d’art et du paysage de l’île de Vassivière, France (2010), Center for Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv (2010), Tate Modern, London (2010), Kunsthaus Zürich (2012) and Jeu de Paume, Paris (2012). Her work was exhibited in the Venice Biennale in 2009. Other group exhibitions include the New Museum, New York (2010), Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm (2009-10), Museo Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid (2009), Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art (2009), Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and Palazzo Grassi, Venice (2008). The web project Vertiginous Mapping (2008) was commissioned by the Dia Art Foundation, New York. Barba’s work is represented in numerous international collections such Collezione FRAC Piemonte, Vercelli, Italy; Nationalgalerie, Berlin; Lemaître Collection, London; Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark; Museo di arte moderna e contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto, Turin; Museo Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid and Sammlung zeitgenössischer Kunst der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Germany. The monograph Rosa Barba: White Is an Image with contributions by Lynne Cooke, Raimundas Malaskauskas, Ian White, and others, was published by Hatje Cantz in 2011.
Cornerhouse, Manchester: 26 January – 24 March 2013
Turner Contemporary, Margate: 1 February – 6 May 2013
Subject to Constant Change is curated by Henriette Huldisch for Cornerhouse and Lauren A Wright for Turner Contemporary.