Friday, April 22, 2011

The Poetics of Reverie: Uta Barth

“We all expect photographs to be a picture of something. We assume that the photographer observed a place, a person, an event in the world, and wants to record it, point at it…The problem with my work is that these images are really not of anything in that sense, they register only that which is incidental and peripheral to the implied it.”

–Uta Barth

Like memories blurred around the edges, German-American photographer Uta Barth’s haunting, ethereal images capture not only fleeting moments themselves but the sensations surrounding those moments. Barth’s oeuvre evokes nostalgia, longing, emptiness, reverie, stillness and quiet, fabricating an almost cinematic ambiance. As viewers, we are psychologically seized up and pulled into her soft-focus dream world; made to feel the warmth of late-afternoon sunlight on our cheek, to witness the slowly circling dust motes in front of a window, studying a blade of grass until it blurs in front of our eyes.

Taking an aesthetic approach opposite to that of the famed Düsseldorf school of photography, which stresses sharply objective, archival documentation of subjects, Barth captures empty, subject-free fragments of scenes, often out-of-focus, off-center or cropped—in an ephemeral study of light, negative space and time.

After ten years of photographing exclusively inside of her own home, Barth began to bring her camera with her on walking trips, “…to walk without destination and to see only to see.” These exploratory photographic promenades spun themselves into her most recent collection of prints, which were on view at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery in Los Angeles last summer.

A few of my favorites below:

Born in 1958 in Berlin, Barth lives and works in Los Angeles. For more information, visit Tanya Bonakdar Gallery.

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