Spaces for Species (and pieces) Rosa Barba at Staatliche Kunstsammlungen in Dresden

Spaces for species (and pieces) is Rosa Barba’s first monographic exhibition in a German museum, the Staatliche Kunstsmmlungen in Dresden.

Barba’s various works, sculptures, films and spatial interventions can only be read within an expanded definition of sculpture. Although questions of composition, physicality of form and plasticity continue to play an important role in the perception of her work, the most prominent concept is what Rosalind Krauss describes as an “increasing temporalisation.” This places the work and the viewer in a new relationship, in which the fields of architecture and landscape also become a part of the way the work is perceived, with our viewpoint from the present moment allowing a new interpretation of the concept of “originality” and how film can articulate space. It is written through the subject matter of her films, each a topographic study of modernity’s unconscious: remote deserts inscribed with geometric secrets; hieroglyphs in subterranean passages encoding divergent narratives to engineers and readers of abstract forms; electronic soundscapes in which rhythms, pulses and drones coalesce and dissipate, and images are interlaced with screens of text and the spoken words of artists, poets, geographers. These are spaces of memory and uncertainty, more legible as reassuring myth than the unstable reality they represent.

Barba’s The Hidden Conference (2010–15) is central to the show—a series of filmic investigations into museum storage and the status of art when it is not on display. All three films in the series evoke the discussions one can imagine artworks in the museum storage spaces might have with one another. The Hidden Conference is a project that reaffirms Barba’s continuing investigation of cultural storage areas and archives: the stored artworks become protagonists in a filmic narrative that unfolds in front of a handheld camera; their invisible nexuses and the condition of silent coexistence are enlivened through the scientific or chronological claims of the restless camera work and the montage of textual fragments, filmic pictures and sound elements. The soundscape, as is always the case in Barba’s films and installations, is an equal partner in supporting the process of fictionalization.

Alongside the film works, the exhibition also includes more sculptural pieces. These conceptual works use projected images, linguistic memories, and real or imagined objects as their central focus, placing them in an oppositional yet coherent dialogue with each other. The works speculate on the nature of documents, not just as complete found items, but as reflections on the present. Barba is interested here not simply in the translation of documents into art, but in the process of constantly transposing from the original material to the image, and from image back to material, so that content becomes form and form content.

Staatliche Kunstsammlungen – Albertinum Salzgasse 01067 Dresden
28 November 2015– 28 February 2016