Interview by Amanda Quinn Olivar, West Coast Editor
Photographing exclusively in her own home, Uta Barth seeks to make viewers conscious of their own perceptual process in relationship to what they see in a gallery. "In most photographs the subject and the content are one and the same thing. My work is first and foremost about perception," she explains. An early realization that using a camera lens changed how she saw things resulted in a visual acuity to the mundane and ephemeral. For instance, in her series 'Ground' and 'Field' (1992-98), Barth created images of blurry backgrounds by focusing her camera on empty foregrounds. In her recent three-part project 'And to draw a bright white line with light' (2011), a ribbon of light streaming through a window ripples across a set of curtains, which Barth has drawn to manipulate the abstract forms cast through its openings. Barth was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 2012.
What was the aha moment that led you to art... and did Los Angeles play a part in your career decision?
I came to Los Angeles to go to graduate school at UCLA, where I met the man I lived with for a long time. He was from LA and never wanted to leave here. So while I did not actively choose Los Angeles, it really grew on me because it provides an incredible freedom for artists.
How has living in LA informed your approach and aesthetic?
There is a freedom in LA that is essential to making art. The place has such a short history compared to New York, London, or Berlin. So as an artist I am not weighed down by the past. I cannot picture myself making work somewhere else. The light is visceral and blinding here. The wide open sprawl of one city turning into the next is so vast, so seemingly endless… and all that is bordered by the ocean on one side and the wide, incredibly beautiful desert on the other. I do deeply like the vastness of it all. I make images that trace light and they render duration, trace time, and give you no central subject that will distract you.
When and how did you first feel embraced by our LA art community?
The discourse here is generated around the many excellent art schools, and it is challenging. Most every serious artist here teaches, not just for a job, but to be engaged. Art schools also provide a sense of community, and community is something we court. LA is so spread out that my closest friends live an hour or more away from me.
The exhibition speaks about the vitality of our art community. Which pioneering LA artist influenced you the most? And whose work do you find intriguing right now?
Robert Irwin, along with many of the ideas that came out of the Light and Space movement... It is no coincident that Light and Space came out of Southern California, as it embraces the light and vastness found here.
How They Ran
Over The Influence
August 12 - September 5, 2018