rosa barba - they shine
18 Nov 2007 - 6 Jan 2008

Rosa Barba presents three new film installations specially for Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam, which she made as a result of her stay in the Mojave Desert in the United States.

Saturday November 17, 5-7 p.m.,
Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam, Rozenstraat 59, Amsterdam.

Rosa Barba is known for film installations in which cinematographic means such as image, sound, subtitling and projection methods are analysed and restructured.

Most recently she has produced the short ‘docufiction’ Outwardly from Earth’s Center, about an island that is in danger of disappearing. The film is a psychoanalytical investigation into how the identity of a society, which once will vanish, can be saved. What begins as a documentary ends up as a wild fantasy about how this Scandinavian island can be rescued from the clutches of the waves.

The three new film works in the exhibition ‘They Shine’ at Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam occupy the middle ground between a purely cinematographic idiom and documentary. The scene of the action is the Mojave Desert in westernAmerica. Around the Second World War this vast area became a testing site, primarily for military purposes. Weapons of all kind – atomic bombs, rockets, aeroplanes and vehicles competing for land speed records – were frequently present in this desert.

The use of the Mojave Desert as a test site has altered various areas into settings that have become as strikingly futuristic as they are ruinous – the gigantic solar energy panel and windmill parks sit alongside the abandoned bunker complexes, trailer parks, heaps of scrap metal, and the largest aeroplane graveyard in the world.

Barba shows these locations in three different film installations, accompanied by statements from local residents as the images pass before our eyes. What emerges from this amalgamation is a totally idiosyncratic way of thinking about these objects: divorced from technological reality, guided by an equally disconnected, utopian and/or religious faith associated with the power of technology. The 16mm and 35mm film images of the vast desert form a timeless backdrop for a reality that seems to have been filmed in the future rather than the present, with ‘archaeological’ sites that slowly but surely attain a mythological status, just like science fiction.

Ultimately, ‘They Shine’ can be read as a metaphor for the modernist era. Modernism still plays an important role, but the technological crux of it has become a misunderstood archaeological relic. And that must be seen against the backdrop of the United States today, where both religious and technological fundamentalism flourishes as never before.

Rosa Barba studied at the Academy of Media Arts,Cologne and at the Rijksakademie voor Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam. She recently had exhibitions in the Kasseler Kunstverein, Fridericianium (2005),Baltic Art Center in Visby, Sweden (2006) and Kunstverein Medienturm, Graz (2007), among others. Barba lives and works in Cologne andAmsterdam. More information at www.rosabarba.com.

Part of ‘Rosa Barba – They Shine’ is the publicationPrinted Cinema#8 – Waiting Grounds, named after one of the 16mm film installations in the exhibition.Printed Cinema is an ongoing publication project connected to various works and contexts.

‘Rosa Barba – They Shine’ will be accompanied by SMBA Newsletter no. 101, with a short introduction by Jelle Bouwhuis, curator SMBA, and a text by Cecilia Alemani, independent curator and art historian in New York. The bilingual Newsletter (EN/NL) is freely available at SMBA and www.smba.nl . 


Presentation by Mark Lewis
November 28, 8:00 p.m. 

In conjunction with the exhibition by Rosa Barba, the British/Canadian filmmaker Mark Lewis will give a presentation of his work in Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam. Originally a photographer, Mark Lewis (b. 1958) has been making films since the 1990s. Together with Charles Esche he founded Afterall in 1998, a research and publication organisation focusing on contemporary art. At the moment his work can be seen in a solo presentation at BFI Southbank in London, and in the MuHKA’s collection presentation in Antwerp. One of his films was also used for the trailer for Documenta 12.  

December 12, 8:00 p.m.

- Rosa Barba, Outwardly from Earth’s Center (2006, 23 min.)
Luke Fowler, Pilgrimage from Scattered Points(2006, 45 min.)

In December Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam will be screening several films that are both documentary and experimental in nature. Since the mid-1990s the artist’s documentary has almost grown in to a new discipline in which the content, regarded socially, is set off against the experimental possibilities of film and/or video as a medium. Among others, Rosa Barba and Luke Fowler demonstrate that this development is still relevant.

Cyprien Gaillard
January 6, 5 p.m.

As a conclusion to Rosa Barba’s exhibition French artist Cyprien Gaillard (1980) will present his work. He will mainly show his film work, which are registrations from actions in cities and landscapes. His most ambitious project so far, Desniansky Raion, was shown in Art Unlimited at Art Basel this year. For the screening of this film work Gaillard invited the composer/musician Koudlam to perform live in SMBA.