© 2019 Judith Barry Studio

ABOUT - RESUME - CV - BIBLIOGRAPHY

ARTIST STATEMENT

I am an artist whose work spans a number of disciplines including installation and project-based research, architecture/exhibition design, film/video, performance art/dance, sculpture, photography, and digital media. I was awarded the Kiesler Prize for Architecture and the Arts, 2000 and the Best Pavilion and Audience Award at the 8th Cairo Biennale, 2001.  My grants include a NYSCA, 2005 and a Daniel Langois Foundation Grant, 2006, a Guggenheim Fellowship, 2011, and a Film/Video Umbrella Grant, 2015. A selection of my grants and awards are listed at the end of this document.

My education includes training in architecture, art and art history, literature and literary theory, rhetoric, film history and theory, anthropology, and computer graphics. I also write essays and fiction. I have contributed texts to a number of contemporary art publications including Blasted Allegories, ed. B. Wallis, New Museum/MIT Press, 1987 and Thinking about Exhibitions, ed. Greenberg, Ferguson, Nairne, Routledge, 1996, and numerous magazines, including October 123 (war issue), 2008 which discusses Not reconciled: Cairo Stories. In 1991 the ICA, London, published a collection of my essays, Public Fantasy, edited by Iwona Blazwick.  My recent monographs include the 2009 catalog body without limits from DA2 (Domus Artium 2002) that accompanied my 12 installation survey exhibition with essays by Kate Linker and Helmut Draxler, the 2003 catalog Study for the Mirror and Garden from Diputacion de Granada, Spain with essays by Jan Avigkos and Jean Fisher, and the 2001 Cairo Biennale catalog with an essay by Gary Sangster, then Director of the Contemporary Museum, Baltimore. A major survey of my work (10 installations) was installed at the Berardo Museum, Lisbon, Portugal and travels to Manchester, England in 2017. Currently, I am working on several projects including a new collection of essays as well as two new commissions in Korea and in the UK.

I began my art career as a dancer and performance artist. Gradually, I combined my interest in dance and my training in architecture with film and video to realize large-scale installation projects. As a performer, I used my dance and architecture training to construct performance projects that were highly sculptural such as ppft-pastpresentfuturetense, first performed at 80 Langton Street in 1977. For that project I both built a three screen audio/slide surround that played continuously, and in the ceiling, I hid 4 tons of sand. As the slides and sound track presented a jumble of women’s stories, I performed one minute gesture sculptures. After 12 minutes, the sand curtain hidden in the ceiling released, slowly burying me in sand. After the performance, the slides, sound track, sand, lighting effects and props were left in the space, and as the audio/slide show was on a loop, the performance residue became an installation. Later, I began to incorporate film and video into my performances. This led to video pieces (single channel) such as Casual Shopper (‘80). My 1981 article about feminism(s) and women artists, “Textual Strategies: the politics of art making”, has been widely reproduced in numerous anthologies, most recently in Art and Gender, ed. Antmen, Ahu, Iletisim Publishers, Istanbul, Turkey, 2008.

During the early ‘80’s, I also began to explore installation as a way to more thoroughly combine all of my research interests. These installations have taken a number of forms depending on time frame, context, and budget. Some of my installations are site-specific while others continue interests I have been developing over a number of years. My predominant methodology as an artist has been to use the research phase of a project to determine both the content and the structure of each work, so consequently, I do not have a ‘signature’ style.  

Sometimes the installation is ephemeral such as for the 1991 Carnegie International. During the exhibition all visitors to the Carnegie Museum received a set of 9 cards that gave instructions in ‘the art of memory’. By following the directions on the cards, the visitor could memorialize his or her version of the Carnegie International by creating a ‘memory theater’ – a mnemonic device that exists solely in a person’s mind – in essence creating a highly individualized installation out of their experiences at the International, and potentially incorporating the entire museum et al.

As each project, including the installations, explores a different set of issues, I can not synopsize individual projects per se or ID set of common themes and attach individual works to these themes as I have produced over 140+ projects. Rather, I will discuss one theme to which I have returned again and again, each time in a different way.

In more than 140+ projects I have explored how it is that we experience images by setting up ways for the viewer to interact with the images spatially. In the shadow of the city.... vampry ('85) uses large slides with film fragments inset directly into the windows of the slides. As the viewer circles the double-sided screen cohering a narrative from the dissolving slides and film fragments, he or she might also be reminded of our culture’s insatiable hunger for images, hence the ‘vampry’ in the title of this work (a homage to Carl G. Dreyer). Imagination, dead imagine ('91) uses a 5 sided life-like head projected from within a minimalist, mirrored cube. Nine substances are seemingly poured onto the head from all sides. But after each assault, the head is miraculously wiped clean (using a video wipe, in fact), perhaps presenting a contemporary notion of the ‘sublime’ alongside the ‘abject’. Voice off (’97) explores how sound might be made visual and visible by demonstrating the power of the voice as it overtakes speakers, singers, and listeners as they valiantly try to co-exist within the same space. Study for the Mirror and Garde, redux (’08) examines Surrealism as a possible outgrowth of the ‘converso’ tradition  – a 14th c. literary tradition developed during the Inquisition that makes use of language’s ability to contain double and triple meanings, hence allowing banished cultures to seemingly hide in plain sight. I have written about some of these ideas in “The space that art makes”, A Dynamic Equilibrium: in pursuit of  Public Terrain, ed. S. Yard, Installation Gallery, San Diego 2007.

Or, perhaps a clearer artist statement would be to briefly synopsize some of my current thinking around the disciplines that continue to shape my methodology as an artist; all of which are informed by the on-going research I mentioned above.

From architecture and design I have continued to develop the notion that architecture is a manifestation of our lived social relations. One of the issues I have increasingly addressed over the last several years is the notion of how social life has been affected/effected by the de-materialization of certain kinds of physical relations, as well as increasingly determined by new technologies and medias. To explore this more fully, I often produce the exhibition design for an exhibition as my artist contribution to that exhibition. In so doing, I am able to interrogate ‘space’ from many different perspectives. Notable exhibition designs include Damaged Goods, New Museum, NYC, 1986, a/drift, Hessel Museum, Bard College, Annadale-on- Hudson,1996 and my 12 installation survey, Body without Limits at DA2, Salamanca, 2008 and which traveled to Berado Museum, Lisbon in 2010.

From dance and performance I have explored ideas about how to investigate and experience space from what I call a visceral perspective such that 'the performative' is almost always a crucial component in all my projects; consequently the viewer is not passive, but is active. This ‘performative’ aspect can mean that to understand the work the viewer must construct it – similar to the 1960's notion of 'scatter sculpture', or that the work is interactive by design and you must physically engage with it in order to cohere its meanings, or that this interaction is embedded in the technology that the piece employs. Examples of these concerns include the on-going series Not reconciled (’87 – ); new additions to the sculpture series Au bout des levres, (’93 – ); Speedflesh (’99) which is, in fact, an interactive video game, among other things; From Receiver to Remote Control: Channeling Spain (’10) , a 3D inhabitable room comparing television programming between the US and Spain; and From when all that was read…, a 3D guide book produced for dOCUMENTA 13 (’12).

From literary theory, rhetoric, and film studies I have incorporated various forms of address such that the viewer/user can locate her or himself within the work. To underscore these effects, I often construct places (subject positions) in the work which are apparent to the viewer/user by employing the conventions of film language, particularly montage techniques, to create what I call 'believable, inhabitable space'. This produces a sense of space, an architecture, which is discernible to the viewer and which he or she can seemingly inhabit and make use of. This is reflected throughout all my works, even in early photo projects such as Space Invaders (’80) which placed the viewer in the photograph and continues through many of the most recent installations, such as Study for Mirror and Garden (’08), the two channel video projection mentioned earlier, which deploys mirrors and transparent video screens throughout the installation such that the viewer is continuously inserted into the narrative as she or he negotiates the space of the work.

From computer science, video game design, and 3-D software applications I am beginning to incorporate topological spatial constructions within some of my interactive installations and sculptures to question what effects these imagined, generated spaces might have on the viewer/users. In particular, what happens to the need for verisimilitude under these conditions? In 2003 I completed my first interactive web project, The Museum You Want, which is still on-line and touring in ‘web-festivals’ and often installed as an installation as well. It is an interactive game that asks you to think about the relationship between a digital museum and a physical museums, even now, in 2016. Over the 13 years the piece has been operating, I have collected over 890 usable (meaning not spam) questions from users that I have added to the game. It has become a data base that I am also using to fuel my thinking about these issues. You can access the game at this url: http://ica.20q.net/intro2.html

While I was a Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at MIT in Cambridge (‘05 –’07), I began to investigate ways of combining 3D computer graphic programs from filmmaking with 3D programs from architecture that are used to generate space. What I discovered is that by combining these programs it is possible to represent motion and depth in new and unusual ways. Continuing with this research, I realized a series of small sculptures first exhibited Galerie Karin Sachs, Munich, 2006. In 2010, I produced an inhabitable 3D installation for an exhibition on television, From Receiver to Remote: Channeling Spain. In 2012 for dOCUMENTA 13, in Kassel, I translated many of these ideas into the book that I produced as a guide for The Brain section of that exhibition, For when all that was read so….

More recently, I have been exploring the documentary tradition, particularly as it relates to questions of narrative strategies and modes of address.  For example, see…Cairo stories, an ongoing series of stories about women in Cairo. While the website is not up-to- date as it is missing exhibitions from the last 3 years, here is a link: http://www.cairostories.com/

…Cairo stories, stages the experience of viewing a work as an interrogation of first person narratives strategies alongside the documentary tradition, digital and photographic modes of representation, and cultural and geographic specificity – all in relation to the function and use value of putting something ‘on display’. One of the central questions the work addresses is the documentary tradition’s relation to the question of what it means to take a photograph?and the ‘truth value’ of stories and histories in a post – postmodern world. Furthermore, each time this work is exhibited a variety of public programming provides a context for local communities to become involved across a wide variety of spaces both inside and outside the space of the exhibition.

My current work includes two major new commissions premiering in 2018 and 2019. As I am still in the research phase of both projects, I will not discuss those ideas here. Additionally, I am working on a collection of my essays to be published in the Fall, 2017.

To synthesize all of the above, I would say that in my work I attempt to investigate how it is that we inhabit the world that we are confronted with today.


Selected Grants and Awards

1978        LINE (book award)
1986        New York Foundation for the Arts, emerging forms fellowship
                 New York State Council on the Arts, video
                 Art Matters (project grant)
1989        Art Matters (project grant)
                 National Endowment for the Arts, artists fellowship
1990        New York Foundation for the Arts, emerging forms fellowship
1996        Wexner Center for the Arts Residency in Video
1997        New York Foundation for the Arts, emerging forms fellowship
                 Friedrich Kiesler Prize for Architecture and the Arts
                 Best Pavilion, 8th Cairo Biennale, Cairo
                 Anonymous was a woman
2005        New York State Council on the Arts, film/video
2006        Daniel Langlois Foundation Project Grant, Montreal
2011        John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship
2015        Film Video Umbrella, London Project Grant