Henry Art Gallery
University of Washington / Seattle, WA
Uta Barth: In Between Places
Deceptively simple, Uta Barth's photographic works question the traditional functions of pictures and our expectations of them. By photographing in ordinary anonymous places - in simple rooms, city streets, airports and fields - Barth uses what is natural and unstudied to shift attention away from the subject matter, and redirect focus to a consciousness of the processes of perception and the visceral and intellectual pleasures of seeing. The Henry Art Gallery and Guest Curator Sheryl Conkelton have organized a first-time museum survey of Barth's career that includes seven important projects made between 1989 and 2000. Nearly fifty works comprise the exhibition. Uta Barth: In Between Places is on view in the Stroum Gallery (South Gallery), November 9, 2000 through January 21, 2001.
Exhibition curator, Sheryl Conkelton states, "Uta Barth provides a compelling look at the nature of our own experience. Her beautifully composed photographs, most often created in places that seem somehow familiar, prompt our consciousness of visual sensations and a deeper consideration of what looking really means. The projects included in this exhibition show her development over the last ten years, during which she has become internationally known and the work has grown increasingly rich in meaning." (left: Untitled (98.4), 1998, color photographs on panel, 30 1/4 x 65 1/2 inches overall)
Barth has used photography exclusively in her aesthetic projects, experimenting with depth of field, focus and framing to create photographs that are suggestive rather than descriptive, alluding to places rather than describing them explicitly. Her interiors and landscapes engage the viewer in an almost subliminal way, testing memory, intellect and habitual responses. Narrative subject matter is replaced with visual incident; the ambiguity of the pictures stimulates a profound self-consciousness of the act of looking. Never entirely abstract, landscapes and interiors are made visually ambiguous to spur profound examination of the particular ways we come to expect pictures to affect us. (left: Untitled (98.2), 1998, color photographs, edition of 5, 45 x 117 inches overall, 45 x 57 inches each panel)
In an early series, Ground, Barth focuses her camera on unoccupied foregrounds in simple interiors, fashioning images of spaces resonant with emptiness. In the Field series, Barth shifts from the vocabulary of still photography to that of film, exploring cinematic effects. Ground and Field were both created from 1994 to 1997. In a later, untitled series, from 1997 to present, Barth's use of multiple images implies movement; large works suggest the flux and mutability of human vision. For her two most recent series from 1999, nowhere near and ...and of time, 2000, Barth has worked in her own house, recording sequences of light through windows and across floors and walls to create pictures that emulate pure, undirected observation. Works in all the series - which range from small easel-size pieces, to works of billboard proportions - begin in the physicality of vision and explore the differences between looking at the world and being conscious of that looking. (left: Untitled from ...and of time, (aot 4), 2000, two color photographs, 35 x 90 inches overall, edition of 4, number 2)
Uta Barth, born in Berlin, has lived in the United States for many years and has been a professor in the Department of Art, University of California, Riverside since 1990. Her work began to be exhibited regularly in the mid-1980s and has been shown in one-person and group exhibitions in galleries and museums throughout the US and Europe including New York, Houston, London, Tokyo, Los Angeles, Stockholm and San Francisco. Barth's work is influential among many contemporary artists and the evolution of her art is watched with great interest by artists and others in the field of contemporary art. (left: Field #9, 1995, color photograph on panel, 23 x 28.75 inches)
The first comprehensive book on Barth's work, Uta Barth: In Between Places, accompanies the exhibition. Previously, only small publications devoted to particular projects of Barth's existed. Designed by Michael Worthington and Lorraine Wilde, this 176-page monograph includes 125 color plates. Essayists include Exhibition Curator Sheryl Conkelton, Russell Ferguson, associate curator at the museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and writer Timothy Martin, who teaches at Art Center College of Design, Pasadena. A complete bibliography and an interview with the artist are also included. The book is available at the Henry Gallery Shop.
Uta Barth: In Between Places, organized by the Henry Art Gallery and Exhibition Curator Sheryl Conkelton, will tour nationally. The exhibition will be shown at the Contemporary Art Museum in Houston, Texas in May 2001. Other venues are to be confirmed.
Generous support for the exhibition and catalogue has been provided by the Lannan Foundation, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Alien Foundation for the Arts, the Henry Art Gallery's Kayla Skinner Fund and Contemporary Art Fund, as well as Jodi Green and Mike Halperin and Rebecca and Alexander Stewart.
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