ROSA BARBA - BUCKLE & JITTER | THREE FILMINSTALLATIONS
(Carlos Enrique Garza Caballero)
Rosa Barba (1972) is fascinated by voids, the ‘spaces-in between’, transitional phases where meaning dissolves for a moment, leaving behind a glimpse of incompleteness. Her film installations reveal a poetry of serendipity: they are cinematographic labyrinths, revealing various layers and forms in an intricate game of light and shadow, moving forward on the tension between image and non-image, duration and moment, between time, dragging on, and the singular instance. ’’Expanded cinema’’, in more than one meaning: Barba makes use of the physical aspect of the medium as a protagonist in her account, which reaches out far beyond the projection field. The network of projectors and reels is not concealed, it plays an explicit role in the illusory world. The structure is inherent to each aspect of the installations: the projection mechanism, the celluloid, the environment, the spectator and the content of the films themselves. The images are defined by the void or ‘temps mort’, referring to the modernist cinema by Antonioni, Tarkovsky or Straub. Pale shapes appear and dissolve, familiar at first glance, but mere shades of imperfection on further consideration, existing in a haze of passing encounters between moments and spaces. This suggestive power is further reinforced by the soundtracks, established from digitally processed field recordings, familiar yet sketchy, tangibly and also far removed. The dialogue of images and sounds, the visible and the invisible, freed from linear narrative structures, generates associations, concurring and breaking up again. It is a cinema of imperfection and the imagination, requiring a constant shift of perspective and a conjunction of various angles, a cinema of the surface, not merely gleaming and sparkling, but also watching, staring and inciting.
Apart from installations Barba also works on short and longer films and on video clips. For the latter she already did some work with Microstoria, Mouse On Mars and Niobe, formations she also performs live with.
argos exhibits three recent works by Rosa Barba: Spaltenfelder (2003), Machine Vision Seekers (2003) and Piratenräume (2002). On 06.04 Rosa Barba wil present musicvideos and visuals at the Beursschouwburg, accompanying live-performances by Microstoria, Lithops and So .
Spaltenfelder (’’Split Fields’’, 2003)
In order to get the raw material for this installation Barba travelled to Naples, where she shot 16mm film images in the villages surrounding the volcano of Vesuvius. The artist relates living in the danger zone surrounding a dormant volcano to the mafia terror in the region. An existential theme: underneath a continuous yet slumbering threat the inhabitants wait until the bitter end (suddenly) pops up. Barba’s film loop, curling its way through the space and in between the three projectors, mixes in documentary with fictional images. We get to see, for instance, the abandoned villa of a murdered mafia leader, people shopping in a supermarket at the bottom of the volcano, or a man who – unambiguously symbolic – makes his cat walk along the edges of the stairwell. Even though the population seems to have forgotten all about the ever present danger of the Vesuvius, images of fireproof hides in the woods suggest that everybody is well-prepared. The artist also capitalizes on, among other things, nostalgic feelings with her pseudo-documentary idiom: her plain, recording camera is a reference to the modernist cinema of Bresson or Straub. The constant threat ‘Spaltenfelder’ is aiming for is continued in the growling soundtrack: digital heavily edited field recordings from the volcanic area by Jan St. Werner.
Machine Vision Seekers (2003)
Machine Vision Seekers is a moving ‘self referential’ film installation in which a script is projected instead of a film. The story, a kind of ‘science-fiction emigration’, is situated in the dark. Some people are walking along a corridor underneath the earth surface to reach their original point of departure. The text toys around with the visualisation of words which describe the invisible pictures in the dark.
Rosa Barba makes use of a moving projector, which literally throws the words onto the wall. That partly aggressive act is also a reference to the blindness of the protagonists in the text and to the several layers in the storyline (in the sense that the projector is abandoning the two-dimensional screen). Machine Vision Seekers shifts between the projector and the viewer, a deconstructed screening where all parts, visible and non-visible are interlinked. It is a conversation between the projection apparatus, the setting in the room, the spectator, the film itself and the plot, a structure which is inherent in every aspect of the installation and which has to be deciphered by the viewer.
Piratenräume (Pirate Rooms, 2002)
Images of decrepit quarters in abandoned Budapest flat buildings appear and disappear against an unclear soundtrack, distilled from flat sounds, street racket and mumbling voices. The apparent scratches in the image mutate into rhythmical floor plans, tying the random images of the rooms together into an evocation of an imaginary city. The 35mm projector, which was specifically designed for the installation, is controlled by a computer programme, as a result of which the installation can operate autonomously. Barba did calculate, however, some ’’complications’’ into the process: light and shadow, sound and silence jumpily merge into one another; every now and again the projection bulb fails. In Piratenräume Barba presents her film material as a sculpture. As a result the film loop slinging its way through space constitutes an indicative element as well: the filmed locations, the illusory environment evoked by the images and the place where the installation is mounted create a fictitious microcosm.