Uta Barth’s two part exhibition at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery is a fascinating look at the artist’s work. It includes the New York debut of her most recent piece, …from dawn to dusk, a nearly 360-degree installation of images commissioned by the J. Paul Getty Trust.
From the press release-
Barth’s expansive 2022 series … from dawn to dusk focuses on the intersection of Southern California light with the architecture of the Getty Center. It traces the changing light at one location of the Richard Meier built campus, for the period of one year. The location was photographed every five minutes, from dawn to dusk, on two days each month, for the entirety of the year. Made with a GigaPan, over 64,000 images were captured and a Timelapse video sequence now shows the progression of this movement of light. As the view repeats from panel to panel, there are subtle changes in light as well as more dramatic blurring and color shifts, which invoke inverted optical afterimages and other visual phenomena that occur when staring at a fixed point for a prolonged period of time. Presented as twelve consecutive single views, the video is embedded among the still images of the installation, and it comes as a surprise to discover what one first assumes to be a still photograph to actually be the moving summation of the show.
In the upstairs galleries, Elizabeth Smith’s selection of work reveals the foundations of the artist’s renowned and influential practice, as well as the trajectory that led to the explorations found in …from dawn to dusk. Elizabeth Smith shared her thoughts on Barth’s practice as she approached this exhibition:
It’s been almost thirty years since I worked with Uta Barth to present her first solo museum show at MOCA in 1995. In relation to her newest project, the gallery’s invitation to select some key examples from both her early series and subsequent ones has offered a welcome opportunity to reengage with and consider the full trajectory of her work. From her earliest to her most recent photographs, Barth’s practice has centered on a nuanced investigation of visual experience, free from narrative. Light, color, the passage of time, and the shifting nature of the process of vision through bodily experience are the ongoing subjects of her resonant images, probed in various ways over decades.
Throughout her career, Uta Barth has made visual perception the subject of her work. Regarded for her “empty” images that reference painterly abstraction, the artist carefully renders blurred backgrounds, cropped frames and the natural qualities of light to capture incidental and fleeting moments, those which exist almost exclusively within our periphery. With a deliberate disregard for both the conventional photographic subject and the point-and-shoot role of the camera, Barth’s work delicately deconstructs conventions of visual representation by calling our attention to the limits of the human eye.
As Leah Ollman writes in her recent Los Angeles Times profile of the artist,
From her earliest years as an artist, Barth’s attention has been drawn to the eye’s behavior: what attracts it, what makes it stay, what causes it to double back, what generates after-images and optical fatigue. Learning to photograph was, for her, a way of learning to see.
This exhibition closes 4/22/23.