Encounter of Volumes
Rosa Barba draws in the sky. She has placed her work Encounter of Volumes on the Vasenhaus, fulfilling a vision that formed the first time she visited the Georgengarten, the empty space above the 1785 building seemed to be inviting her to add a temporary structure to its constructed form. The steel construction combines qualities of the medium of drawing – light and fleeting, rough and incomplete – with elements of film: projection and sound track. Different media, perspectives and temporal planes interweave on a vertical stage stretching into the sky, with the appearance of the roof sculpture changing in response to the time of day and weather conditions. The three-dimensional design of steel pipes and screens constantly reveals new details and visual references and the core element of the medium of film – light – can be experienced in ever new ways.
Interview Rosa Barba with Kristina Tieke
KT: For the Vasenhaus in the Georgengarten, a small structure built in 1785, you developed a steel construction composed of vertical and horizontal frames and placed it on the roof of the building. Encounter of Volumes (2019) appears airy and light despite weighing roughly one thousand kilogrammes. The structure extends significantly the body of the building – whereby one is not able to say whether this extension is in the process of being built or being dismantled. In what relation to the historical structure do you place your construction?
RB: The Vasenhaus fascinated me immediately on my first walk in Dessau with Daniel Herrmann and Alexander Klose. It appeared to me like an architecture whose continuation was intentionally abandoned. This space appears to be reserved for the imagination. The visible part of the Vasenhaus is thus like a frame or a direction and the further drawing is up to the observer. The sculpture that I’ve temporarily placed on the Vasenhaus is supposed to depict an abstract space, a floating form that exhibits no temporal reference.
In my work, I constantly inquire how we occupy space, examining it with diverse approaches using time and language. I see time more as an accumulation, more as an archive than as a linear sequence. I often abstract language so that it becomes difficult to read or understand; it eludes normal semiotic functions. With this method I scrutinize time and its volumes, and reassess the authority of language and the reliability of its own sources. Spatial investigations unfold by means of deconstructions of the film apparatus or the filmic setting and its surrounding elements (time, space, light and sound). In this sculpture, the architecture of the Vasenhaus is furthered on a vertical stage with elements of sound and light.
KT: You grasp the exhibition room and its surrounding as an extension of the membrane of your work, as you once remarked elsewhere. In Dessau one encounters your installation at an especially idyllic place in the park that leads into a romantic, labyrinthian set of waterways. What role does the Georgengarten play in the perception of your work? What role does the outside play?
RB: The outside stimulates a constant exploration during which objects meet and become ideas in their specific environment, which also has no defined borders. The exhibition space continues in and merges with the work itself.
The ideas are starting points rather than answers that need to act on a stable platform. It’s a kind of simultaneous laying together, like a song that consists of many different musical layers and meanings. I try to construct a work so that you can always examine its parts, technically as well as semantically, sensually and historically. Together the parts form a song, a story, or an image, which in turn form an idea. So the parts act as ingredients and starting points for examination and associations that lead far from the actual piece. The viewer uses time as a personal chaotic discipline or technique, to connect the works to each other. The works placed on the platform are looped, but every visitor will experience a different “play” of all these coinciding factors and in different circumstances, like weather, daylight and sounds of the Georgengarten.
KT: The critical confrontation with the medium of film and its technical conditions is of central importance for your artistic work. Your access is sculptural.
RB: I regard cinema in my work in an architectural sense and as an instrument, where the environment, the screen and the projection can be combined or pushed forward to create another spatiotemporal dimension which is concurrent with and points beyond the context of interior or exterior space. Experimenting with time-based forms, I expand their potential so they become not only sculptural objects, installations or architectural sites but also speculations, in an ever-changing process of transformation.
I am provoking the traditional concepts of cinematic spaces by taking them out of their conventional contexts and readings (which are largely subjected to regimes of film and moving-image narratives), and by reshaping and representing them anew.
In my installations, I explore film and its capacity to be simultaneously an immaterial medium that carries information, and a physical material with sculptural properties. The category of film is expanded and abstracted beyond the literal components of the celluloid strip, the projector through which it passes and the image projected onto a screen or beyond – where the landscape itself forms the screen. Each component becomes a starting point for artworks that expand on the idea of film while exploring its intrinsic attributes.
KT: I’m reminded of a diary entry by Franz Kafka, who was a great filmgoer. On 20 November 1913 he wrote: “Was at the movies. Wept.[…]Am completely empty and meaningless, the electric tram passing by has more living meaning.” The moment of emptiness seems to be inscribed also in your work. What relevance do you yourself ascribe to this aspect?
RB: I can relate with the “emptiness” in a different way.
With my work, I would like to argue and show how to overcome the more and more intensifying closure of vision around us where systems are constantly seeing for us. It is by opening up new unpredictable spaces that we could reappropriate our thinking and experiencing. These new openings often require a new sort of empty space which allows us to think independently from set norms.