Friday, June 18, 2010

Uta Barth's pictures

Barth, 1996

When you look at Uta Barth's photographs, the only thing more disconcerting than the 'subject' of the pictures - they have no subject - is the point of view of the observer, which is very hard to define. Am I here, or am I there? Am I moving, crouching, standing still, or dreaming? Your attention slides and gropes, lost in some middle ground, in undefined spaces of ignored nooks and edges. Barth wants to leave you in a soft-focus limbo, and by doing that seeks to draw you back to a consideration of perception itself. Her favorite quote is from Paul Valéry's Notebooks: 'to see is to forget the name of what one sees,' which is also, more or less, the title of the Lawrence Weschler biography of Robert Irwin, one of her heroes and a fellow LA-based artist. Her show at Tanya Bonakdar has just closed. The picture above is 'Field #19' (1996) from her Field series.

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