As an artist, Judith Barry has always considered exhibition design part of her artistic practice. While still a student, she designed parties such as COCA COLA in San Francisco. Her interests in exhibition design also informed her installations as installation requires that an understanding of the spatial relations surrounding a work, alongside the work’s context are required to best serve the conceptual ideas underpinning all works of art. Writing has also always played an important role in her thinking, as it is through her research and writing that she has been able to develop her ideas. Additionally, as many of her proposals remained unbuilt – what in architecture is dubbed ‘paper’ architecture – she publishes articles about some of these works in art and architecture journals. These activities led to invitations to design exhibitions as part of her artistic practice. In 1982, she designed the exhibition Artists Architecture for Michael Newman at the ICA, London.
This exhibition showcased the work of artists exploring architectural conventions such as General Idea, and also presented a history of exhibition design in the UK and showcased the Independent Group and Archigram. Other exhibition design projects followed, including DAMAGED GOODS, 1986 at the New Museum, curated by Brian Wallis. Over the years she has designed more than 20 exhibitions, often with her partner Ken Saylor, an architect and exhibition designer.What follows is a selection of some of these projects.
The Flows of Space, Helmut Draxler, Link
Ambivalence and Actualization, Helmut Draxler, Link
Pleasure / Leisure and the Ideology of the Corporate Convention Space, Judith Barry, Link
"Damaged Goods" is the first survey of artists associated with ‘appropriation’ art in the 1980’s, included Barbara Bloom, Gretchen Bender, Andrea Fraser, Jeff Koons, Justen Ladda, Louise Lawler, Ken Lum, Allen McCollum, Haim Steinbach and me. My artist contribution was the design of the exhibition. I collaborated with the artists on the display systems for their work. My design ruptured the ‘white box’ of the museum by combining display techniques borrowed from retail, theatre and natural history museums while simultaneously updating Lizitsky’s Proun space as a more interactive contemporary art space/ installation. See Judith Barry, Dissenting Spaces in Greenberg/Ferguson/Nairne, Thinking about Exhibitions, Routledge, London1996. | Project Page
For a retrospective of the fashion designer Geoffrey Beene, I was commissioned to produce a video installation that could perform two functions --- modelling the clothes and animating the tall black oblong box that is the FIT exhibition space. Dancers, choreographed modelling the clothes, were projected to the height of the exhibition space, twenty-four feet. Three transparent screens installed full height caught the dancers movements as they seemingly traversed the space, bringing the space to life.
In a series of 20 period rooms with period TV programming, "From Receiver To Remote Control: The Television Set" traced how television transformed the home from a site of production into one of consumption: the ‘50’s notions of ‘home theater’; the ‘easy living’ implied by labor saving appliances; the ‘60’s as the only moment when television was overtly political from Civil Rights activism to the Vietnam War; the ‘70’s and the proliferation of technologies with portable color TV and cable; the ‘80’s and the potential for a return to production in the form of the home computer. Read More >>
The exhibition "Impresario: Malcom Mclaren And The British New Wave" used popular culture – music videos, clothing and memorabilia, to present Malcolm McLaren’s situationalists strategies as an artistic practice and charted his manifestations in the ‘70’s from The New York Dolls to The Sex Pistols and Bow Wow Wow through his interest in global music –the album, Duck Rock– to his interest in opera– the album, Fans–. One of the first exhibitions to combine art with popular culture, this exhibition portrayed McLaren’s ever changing strategies to showcase the fluid relations between publicity, music, fashion, media strategies and celebrity. Read More >>