Installation view of Uta Barth at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery. All images via Tanya Bonakdar.
In her current solo exhibition at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, the German-born and Los Angeles-based photographer Uta Barth presents works from her recent partner projects, …and to draw a bright white line with light (previously shown in her 2011 solo exhibition at The Art Institute of Chicago) and Compositions of Light on White. Both series carry the themes of atmospheric flux, the passage of time, and ephemerality that have come to characterize Barth’s practice. Long recognized for her rigorous examination of the conventions of photography and the poetics of visual perception, Barth takes on the role of the observer at the window in these most recent series.
In …and to draw a bright white line with light she manipulates sheer curtains to capture the fleeting nature of light as it moves across the surface. Although recorded chronologically in a single afternoon, the diptychs and triptychs that emerge from this process are far from linear in the narrative sense. Focusing on the spaces between rather than discrete points, a sense of narrative dissolves into what the artist has described as “a mantra that allows us to tune into the subtlest, most ephemeral information that I am trying to chase down.”
In a similar play of light at the window, Compositions of Light on White, was created through timely adjustments of blinds in the artist’s bedroom. Documenting the shadowy patterns against the room’s architecture, Barth references the pure abstraction of Mondrian’s grids, but fills them with the intimacy of her personal space. In both of these recent bodies of work, there is a haunting quality. While the images are elegantly filled with the momentary movement of the light, they also seem chillingly empty. In this paradoxical tension, they gesture towards the mystical quality of light and, moreover, the limitations of our own perception.
– M. Hoetger