(Germany, United States of America 1958 – )
2 photographs: each 88.1 x 111.0 cm image; 89.5 x 112.5 cm frame; 89.5 x 231.35 cm overall installed
Uta Barth emigrated from West Berlin to California in the late 1960s, and remains a German citizen though she has not returned to Berlin since the end of the Cold War. She lives in Los Angeles and has been a lecturer at the University of California, Riverside since 1990. Her work explores margins, ‘everything that is peripheral rather than central’ [p10]. Her vision is never monocular, she works in series of various sizes, often presenting diptychs, triptychs, and more.
In this work from the series of 20, ‘nowhere near’, Barth’s diptych tracks the movement of vision from exterior to interior by repeatedly interrogating a low-vantage perspective from a window in the artist’s home. Interested in the act of looking, rather than the subject matter at which the photographer (or camera) is looking, ‘nowhere near’ utilises the serial nature of photography to comment on time. In this panoramic view, individual images’ content is of less importance than the shifts between them. Changes in the light and weather reflect the passing of days and months, whilst forcing a double-take effect that breaks any experience of an unfaltering gaze.
The perspective in ‘nowhere near’ is relentless, repetitive, entrapping yet not claustrophobic. Barth claims that home ‘becomes almost invisible’ as ‘[o]ne moves through one’s home without any sense of scrutiny or discovery’ [p 21]. However, this committed stare is also subject to fail, as the series wilfully embraces photographic ‘mistakes’ such as a lens flare – a moment where camera vision collapses, unable to accommodate all accidents of light and space. In so doing Barth reaffirms her interest in the act of looking, over any meaning that her subject matter might suggest.
Quotes from Barth, U, Lee, P M, Higgs, M & Gilbert-Rolfe, J. 'Uta Barth', Phaidon Press, London, 2004
Sheryl Conkelton, Russell Ferguson and Timothy Martin, Uta Barth: In Between Places, 2000.
P M Lee, M Higgs, J Gilbert-Rolfe and Uta Barth, Uta Barth, 2004.
Jan Tumir and Uta Barth, Uta Barth: Nowhere Near, 1999, (illus.).
Making sense: contemporary LA photo artists, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 11 Feb 2012–13 May 2012