Rosa Barba: Is it a two-dimensional analogy or a metaphor?

Rosa Barba: Is it a two-dimensional analogy or a metaphor?

Centre International d’Art et du Paysage, Vassivière Island

Rosa Barba
“The long Road”, 2010
Courtesy of the artist, Carlier | Gebauer and Galleria Giò Marconi

February 21, 2010

Rosa Barba
Is it a two-dimensional analogy or a metaphor?
28 February – 4 July 2010

Opening 27 February 2010 at 5 pm

Curated by Chiara Parisi and Andrea Viliani

Centre international d’art et du paysage
Ile de Vassivière F – 87120
+33 5 55 69 27 27
communication [​at​]

Rosa Barba’s Is it a two-dimensional analogy or a metaphor? is an exhibit, presented from 28 February to 4 July 2010 and opening at 5 p.m. on 27 February 2010, entirely constructed around, and inspired by, water and light – the fundamental elements of the island of Vassivière in the heart of France. The lake around the island is used metaphorically as a screen and its nature is revealed by a cinematographic light.

Chiara Parisi, director of the Centre international d’art et du paysage, and Andrea Viliani, director of the Fondazione Galleria Civica-Centro di Ricerca sulla Contemporaneità of Trento, invited Rosa Barba, whose work drew plaudits at the 2009 Biennial Venice, to produce a project for the island. It is a place often perceived as an idyllic natural landscape, but is actually a man-made construct.

Is it a two-dimensional analogy or a metaphor? questions the essence and even the function of cinema. Here the artist explores the cinematographic image both as a reconstruction of reality and as an illusion.

In her films, Rosa Barba develops an interest in unusual places or improbable situations, which she films mainly in 16mm, sometimes using celluloid as well as pre-existing documents to create works that reflect on the structure of film both as a medium and as a physical presence. Based on social and cultural research, her films are conceived by assembling a set of very specific circumstances. She creates installations in which the spectator can find themselves observing a projector as a piece of sculpture, hearing its sounds and perceiving its movements.

Rosa Barba’s work constructs a mythology based on multitude of viewpoints, but above all on utopian, naturalist and scientific notions.

Is it a two-dimensional analogy or a metaphor? presents itself as a process in which film and, more broadly, cinema, has been dismembered and divided into different components such as sound, pure light and the physical film tape itself: a first projector is placed in the lighthouse, built by Aldo Rossi, from where powerful beams of light are directed across the gallery building towards the small theatre. Here, at sunset, a second projector illuminates the waters of the lake where irregular movements underscore the mysterious submerged presence of a work formed by sound frequencies.

The lighthouse thus becomes an immense container for a projection focusing on the movement of film, a movement that has its own mesmeric effect; visitors stand fascinated before the magically rising tapes of celluloid, thanks to the movement driven by a powerful fan that makes them twist and turn in the central void of the tower, animating this space by diffusing the sound made by its fan blades.

In the nave, Rosa Barba presents her new film, made at the site of a car racetrack in the Californian desert, where she explores the intersection of reality and fiction by transforming the location into a vast design that emerges from the sand. The drawing traced by the movement of the cars seems to present some imminent menace – or else the stigma of modernist faith. The camera sweeps over the landscape at high speed, like some road movie, revealing deep shadows by the contrast with the dazzling californian light.

In the study room, a projector placed on the floor plays the 16-mm films (forming the piece Enigmatic Whistler); if the projector continues to emit light, it can no longer serve to guide the spectator through the dream world of the film. In the same room, Stating the Real Sublime presents another projector, hung from the ceiling by its own celluloid reels. In these two works, the mechanics of projection overshadow the content of the films themselves, and drags the machinery along in a kind of anarchistic gesture that destroys any cinematographic possibility. The projectors thus become machines that can only expose their essential components, shunning narrative in favour of the fragmentation of light. The viewer must, alone, find some way of connecting with the rhythms of the machines and the sounds that they develop, which begin to flow into his spirit.

With her The indifferent back of a view rather than its face and The personal experience behind its description, Rosa Barba uses a lamp that projects through a piece of shredded cloth onto a wall. The text appears through the voids created in the cloth and then onto the wall, in letters made of light. Through this process, the narrative moves beyond two-dimensional cinematography and enfolds the spectator in a story projected in three dimensions.

On entering the exhibit, the visitor is unaware they are penetrating a space which forms the inside of a huge projector. Only when they discover the projector placed in the little theatre, the light from which crosses the small attic window, do they realize where they really are – at the heart of a complex machine, one of whose reels is the lighthouse – and then they themselves become a film on which the exhibit is inscribed. Vassivière lake is nothing less than the screen of this vast cinematographic ensemble, one that receives movement distilled by the artist and amplified by the visitor.

Rosa Barba’s work touches the waters of Vassivière lake with a subtle grace, creating concentric waves on the surface. The water acts as a medium; animated by the sound, and lit up by the beam of light from a 70-mm projector, the lake transmits the sound of the film through the water of the little theater. A cinematographic metaphor lies at the center of the installation: the water seems to have the properties of a sensitive plaque, while sound is imprinted and revealed by movement. The device enables a subtle experience whereby it seems possible to see sound and hear image. The acoustic wave transforms into an aquatic one.

This is the point when the spectator becomes aware of the possible equivalence between the two elements; his sense of surprise and wonder overpowers his rational selves him as he seem to enter a dream state. Maybe the sequence of cause-and-effect that takes place before our eyes is connected with some invisible sea creature? Or perhaps from the villages submerged in the lake in the 1950s as a result of the dam construction, that allowed Vassivière Island to emerge?

A catalogue will be published to mark the exhibit, with texts by Lynne Cooke, Elisabeth Lebovici, Francesco Manacorda, Raimundas Malasauskas, Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez and Ian White.

Press contact Frédéric Legros
tel: +33 (0)5 55 69 27 27

Centre international d’art et du paysage
Open from tuesday to friday 2pm – 6pm, week-end 11am – 1pm and 2pm – 6pm

Le Centre international d’art et du paysage is sponsored by the Ministry of Culture and Communications/Drac Limousin and the Regional Board of Limousin and receives the support of the Syndicat mixte “le Lac de Vassivière”.

The exhibit Is it a two-dimensional analogy or a metaphor? by Rosa Barba enjoys the collaboration of the Fondazione Galleria Civica-Centro di Ricerca sulla Contemporaneità of Trento and partnership with Biu beauté bio and Pro Natura.

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February 21, 2010

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