Uta Barth has after some three decades of artistic practice come to occupy a truly singular position in contemporary photography. Having made visual perception, itself the subject of her work, her images are known to appear empty as they, with blurred backgrounds and cropped frames capture only the most minimal and ephemeral information. She has said of her work: “The question for me always is, how can I make you aware of your own activity of looking, instead of losing your attention to thoughts about what it is that you are looking at.”
By deconstructing the conventions of visual representation, she draws attention to the periphery and to the differences between human and camera vision.
Her most recent project, In the Light and Shadow of Morandi grew out of previous projects, like “…and to draw a bright white line with light.” and “Compositions of Light on White” which are the beginnings of Barth actively manipulating her subject matter to draw with light. The Morandi project consists of still-life set-ups, using everyday translucent coloured glass vessels and photographing the shadows they cast, thereby drawing with light – the very definition of photography. The light projected onto these still-lifes creates rippled and refracted coloured shadows which become the subject of the work. There is a clear kinship between Morandi’s practice of continuously painting the same objects in the same space, observing and depicting every slight fluctuation of light, and Barth’s tireless observations of how light wanders in her home and studio.
The series is in part a homage to Morandi but also, yet again an exploration of the differences between what the camera registers and what human perception makes us see, and as such it inscribes itself in the continuous research that is the core of Barth’s œuvre. The unconventional shapes of the finished works are a result of her photographing her mise-en-scènes from an extreme angle (in order to not have the camera’s own shadow intervene) and then having to use photoshop to correct the parallax distortion of the resulting images. Barth chose to reveal this process by leaving (and not cropping) the odd shaped final images, instead creating sculptural objects. The works are simultaneously factual and enigmatic – we are unsure of what it is we see, objects or their reflections, a vase or its shadow? Like in stained glass windows they are both solid and transparent.
Her work has been exhibited widely, selected recent solo presentations include to draw with light at SCAD Museum of Art in Savannah, GA (2013), … and to draw a bright, white line with light at The Art Institute of Chicago (2011), Henry Art Gallery at the University of Washington in Seattle (2011), nowhere near, and of time, white blind (bright red) (1999–2002) at SITE Santa Fe in New Mexico (2005).
She is well represented in both public and private collections world-wide, including the Moderna Museet and Magasin III Museum for Contemporary Art Stockholm, Whitney Museum of American Art, MoMA New York, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Collection in New York and Bilbao, Spain, The Tate Modern, London; MOCA, LACMA and The Getty Museum in Los Angeles, MCA Chicago, and numerous others.
Barth (born in Berlin in 1958) lives and works in Los Angeles. She received a B.A. from the University of California, Davis in 1982 and an M.F.A from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1985. She is a 2012 McArthur Fellow and has taught at the University of California, Riverside since 1990, where she currently is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Art. She was also a graduate faculty member at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California and now teaches occasional graduate seminars at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Barth’s work has been the subject of almost a dozen monographs, most recently Uta Barth, to draw with light, published by Blind Spot.
In 2022 her work will be the subject of a large retrospective; “Uta Barth: Peripheral Vision” at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, accompanied by a major publication
Gallery name: Andréhn-Schiptjenko
Address: Linnégatan 31, Stockholm
Opening hours: Tue-Fri 11:00 - 18:00, Sat 12:00 - 16:00
Open: 10.06.2021 - 24.07.2021