Rosa Barba (*1972 in Agrigent, Italy; lives in Berlin) is currently one of the most notable artists of her generation worldwide working in the area of film. From March 12 to May 22, Barba is presenting an extensive selection of films, installations, and sculptural orchestrations at the Kunstverein Braunschweig.
A labyrinthine arrangement of pipes runs through the garden behind the Haus Salve Hospes. They appear to lay bare the hidden structure of a city, while the day-to-day noise of traffic pours through the piping as if from a subterranean world. Barba’s films primarily make reference to places into which history etches itself: an abandoned race track in the Californian desert served as the point of departure for The Long Road (2010). She uses the camera to trace the oval of the road – a loop without a finish line – which extend through the barren landscape as if it were a sign. The film, which can be viewed as an extensive projection that divides the space of the Kunstverein’s hall of mirrors, makes reference to Rosa Barba’s interest in signs and writing that can be rendered in sculpture, as is also revealed in the work A Private Tableaux (2010). In this case it is images of tunneling whose ceiling exhibits cryptic markings. They suggest archaic cave paintings, yet they stem from engineers examining the cracks in the vault caused by overhead traffic. In light of the narrative elements that have been edited into the film, which enter into a dialogue with the documentary images, the functionality of the signs recedes into the background.
Outwardly from Earth’s Center (2007) is also an excellent example of this oscillation between documentation and fiction, which is typical of Rosa Barba’s work on film. It is based on an actual geological phenomenon: the Swedish island of Gotska is drifting away from the mainland by one meter a year. Barbara constructs a fictitious narration around this fact that revolves around the inhabitants’ efforts to halt their island being carried away. The plot can hardly be classified in terms of time: despite real content and expert scientific opinion, it time and again shifts into the surreal.
Besides narrative works on film, Barbara also produces sculptural orchestrations that ultimately open up into a conceptual practice. Works such as Enigmatic Whistler (2009) or Invisible Act (2010) develop an almost multisensorial effect due to their special treatment of material, form, surface, light, and sound. The absence of a projected image causes the focus to shift to the material, thus heightening the sculptural effect. In Time Machine (2007), Barba has the screenplay for a ninety-minute film run across the screen in tight rows. It is based on the the 1895 novel The Time Machine by H. G. Wells, for the material was never filmed and thus never visualized. In this way, the work itself becomes a “still” that evokes the viewer’s own images.
Rosa Barba has already received a number of awards and presented her work worldwide at countless group exhibitions, among others at the 53rd Venice Biennale (2009). Extensive exhibitions of her works were shown, for example, at the Dia Art Foundation in New York (2008), the Villa Romana in Florence (2008), the Tate Modern in London, Level 2, the Centre International d’Art et du Paysage de l’île de Vassivière, or at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid. A catalogue will be published in conjunction with the exhibition, produced in collaboration with the Center for Contemporary Art in Tel Aviv.
The exhibition is been sponsored by Stiftung Braunschweigischer Kulturbesitz
and Land Niedersachsen