Uta Barth: Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York
Tanya Bonakdar Gallery is pleased to present a remarkable group of new works by Uta Barth. As the artist’s ninth solo exhibition with the gallery, this show will bring together two of Barth’s latest series of color photographs within the main floor exhibition spaces.
Furthering her exploration of the atmospheric and incidental, Barth conceived her latest major body of work, ... and to draw a bright white line with light, on the occasion of her 2011 solo exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago. This series is installed in the main gallery space as a sequence of diptych and triptych paneled photographs that trace a growing ribbon of light against the curtains of the artist’s home. Created over the course of a single afternoon, this project follows a distinct chronology that diverges from the circular nature of her earlier series. Here, Barth captures glimpses of the ephemeral as it exists between two fixed points in time, beginning with the very first sliver of light that snakes across her textured curtains and culminating in large ribbons that fill the final frame. Despite this sequential ordering, however, these photographs do not invite a linear narrative. Rather, they coalesce to transform observations as simple as a ray of afternoon sunlight into a lyrical description of the passage of time, heightening our awareness of such subtleties and, in turn, the process of looking itself.
Throughout the past two decades, Barth has made visual perception the subject of her work. Regarded for her “empty” images that border on painterly abstraction, the artist carefully renders blurred backgrounds, cropped frames and the natural qualities of light to capture incidental and fleeting moments, those which exist almost exclusively within our periphery. With a deliberate disregard for both the conventional photographic subject and point-and-shoot role of the camera, Barth’s work delicately deconstructs conventions of visual representation by calling our attention to the limits of the human eye.
In her newest series, however, Barth no longer remains the mere observer. For the first time in her practice, she overtly manipulates her surroundings by drawing the folds of her curtains in order to shape the growing line of sunlight into desired configurations. Similar to her 2010 series, ... to walk without destination and to see only to see., Barth registers her presence by including the occasional glimpse of her hand as it works to draw the line of light. Such details lend a process-based, performative element to this series that, ironically, aligns it neatly with the artist’s ongoing exploration of image making. With every tug of the curtain and new line of light, Barth creates photographs in their most literal form – as drawings of light.
All installation images above: Photo by Jean Vong