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Death Valley 69, 1986

Music video. Collaboration with Sonic Youth/Richard Kern, featuring Lydia Lunch. 6 minutes. First exhibited Red Bar, NYC 1986.

Charles Manson’s ‘family’ and the murder of Sharon Tate, the wife of Roman Polanski, provide the lyrical engine for this exploration of ‘splatter/gore’ film imagery as a kind of ‘painting’. The band, already dead, comes back to life to re-animate/re-examine questions about punk, rock, and violence in relation to lingering questions about the legacy of the 1960’s. This video, like many of my film/video works, ‘samples’ footage from a variety of video and film sources including the ‘70’s cult film, The Strawberry Statement.



Damaged Goods, 1986

The New Museum, NYC, Summer 1986

This museum exhibition, 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.

Exhibition design as artist contribution to the exhibition, curated by Brian Wallis, The New Museum, NYC, Summer 1986

Related publication:

Dissenting Space, Judith Barry, Download Link

Dissenting Spaces (Public Fantasy), Judith Barry, Download Link

The Exhibitionist, Piper Marshall, Download Link

Project Page



Echo, 1986

Museum of Modern Art, NYC, 1986

The promise of the glass building as transparent skin and reflective space became a site to interrogate notions of subjectivity as an architecture of representation and exclusion re-figured through the myth of Echo & Narcissus. Commissioned by MoMA, NYC for Cesar Pelli’s building (now demolished) each image presented a conundrum. These loops show lost men, quite literally reflecting on their lives while attempting to negotiate or escape from impossible spaces such as the ubiquitous ‘infinity’ chamber bathroom, a swimming pool, a Japanese garden and an elevator. In the end, it is only Echo’s voice that remains.

Installation: 2-sided slide/film/sound projection
Dimensions variable
First exhibited Museum of Modern Art, NYC, 1986

Related publication:

The seduction & the terror of uncertain signs, Javier Penera, Link

Liminal Zones / Coursing Flows, Judith Barry, Download Link

Vam p r y, Judith Barry, Download Link

Wilfull Amnesia, Judith Barry, Download Link

Project Page



Mirage, 1985

New Museum 1985

Now you see it. Now you don’t. A science-fiction Western set on the West Texas Plains. An allegory about a Native American who tries to go home after the Vietnam War. Presented as a ‘road’ film/trip, it presents the plight of the native as both homeless and rootless. In place of home, he discovers a reconstructed Wild West village. He watches the dust blow, trying to hallucinate, but he can’t. He just couldn’t believe anymore.

Single channel color/stereo video Two versions: 10 minutes, 16 minutes Trailer: 30 seconds. First exhibited New Museum 1985.

Related publications:

Mirage, Judith Barry, Download Link

Spectacle & Subjectivity, Johanna Drucker, Download Link

Casual-Shopper, Judith Barry, Download Link

Are You Ready for TV ?, Judith Barry, Download Link



In the Shadow of the City... Vamp r y, 1985

Artists Space, NYC, 1985

The title is my explanation for our insatiable hunger for images as well as a critique of the pessimistic stance of postmodern philosophers such as Jean Baudrillard who see our increasingly media-defined world as leading to schizophrenia. Instead of schizophrenia, I proposed the vampire as a more compelling (and humorous) metaphor for our insatiable hunger for images. You circle the screen, finding and losing yourself in the fragmented narratives that re-occur over the endlessly dissolving slides ---- a filmic form of scatter sculpture. See Judith Barry, Willful Amnesia in Felix Voyeurism #2, NYC 1999.

Installation, 2-sided slide/film/sound projection Dimensions variable First exhibited Artists Space, NYC, 1985

Related publication:

Vampire, Judith Barry, Download Link

Wilfull Amnesia, Judith Barry, Download Link

Liminal Zones / Coursing Flows, Judith Barry, Download Link

Space that Art Makes, Judith Barry, Download Link



Blew, 1982

Can a sentence be a story? What is the difference between telling a story versus using images to show a story? What happens when you put both together? This piece is also a paean to another artist’s work: Jonathan Borofsky’s Dream series. The narrator says, “When I stepped from the shower a chorus of Greek women blew dry my hair” as the viewer sees a man stepping from his shower and women in togas blowing on him. The video is exactly as long as the time it takes the narrator to say the story.

Single channel video, R/T = 10 seconds 1982.

Related publication:

Are You Ready for TV ?, Judith Barry, Download Link



Space Invaders

ICC, Antwerp, 1982

This video takes up Andy Warhol’s famous dictum, “Everyone will be famous for 15 minutes” while also slyly filtering his desire to be a robot and his notion of the Factory through the lens of entertainment culture and the global village. The video follows several characters, mostly men, through three overtly mediated spaces --- a video game arcade, a night club, and a bedroom. With video games, we play knowing we will lose, but none of us quite know how to become stars. See Judith Barry, Space Invaders, Un/Necessary Image, MIT Press, Cambridge 1983.

Single channel video, 5 minutes, 1982. First exhibited ICC, Antwerp, 1982 as a two channel installation with one slide slowly going in and out of focus.

Related publications:

Space Invadors, Judith Barry, Download Link

Video Art and Video Games, Peter Lehman, Download Link

Future Cinema, Judith Barry, Download Link

Spectacle & Subjectivity, Johanna Drucker, Download Link

Are You Ready for TV ?, Judith Barry, Download Link



Artists Architecture, 1982


PS 1/Clocktower, NYC 1987

The collaborative nature making of exhibitions allowed these artist/architect groups to explore ideas in a much more nuanced way than mere object-making. For Artists’ Architecture I used the work of Archigram and The Independent Group, especially This is tomorrow to explore the legacy of pop culture and ‘paper’ architecture in relation to appropriation art in the 1980’s. For This is tomorrow, today I recreated two exhibits from This is tomorrow at the Whitechapel in London in 1956 including

Richard Hamilton, John Voelker and John McHale’s contribution. See Judith Barry, Designed Aesthetic, This is tomorrow today, MIT Press, Cambridge 1987.

Artists Architecture, Exhibition design, ICA London 1982 Curator: Michael Newman This is tomorrow today, Exhibition Design, PS 1/Clocktower, NYC 1987 Curator: Brian Wallis



Casual Shopper, 1981

Pacific Film Archive, 1981​

Casual Shopper was inspired by three things: the realization that there could be a female ‘flaneuse’ après Walter Benjamin’s flaneur; that a woman’s ‘gaze’ could produce narrative thus countering Laura Mulvey’s famous observation about classic HW film --- that men ‘act’ and women (only) ‘appear’; that visual pleasure could proceed from a ‘feminist perspective’ within cinematic space. See Judith Barry, Casual Imagination, Blasted Allegories, ed. Brian Wallis, MIT press, Cambridge 1987. Casual Shopper is about people who shop casually, those who go to the mall just to browse, at their leisure, when there is nothing better to do. This is a love story that never advances beyond that which can be imagined, which is never consummated, but which returns to a prosaic scene where demands are exchanged and desire circulates endlessly. Share the fantasy.

Single channel color/stereo video. 3 versions: 3 minute, 6 minute, 28 minute 1980/81. Premiered at Pacific Film Archive, 1981


Related publication:

Casual-Shopper, Judith Barry, Download Link

Casual Imagination, Judith Barry, Download Link

Spectacle & Subjectivity, Johanna Drucker, Download Link

Articulate Spatial Projections, Gary Sangster Download Link

Project page



Who Looks out While you Look on… TV is Just a Memory, 1979

NYC 1981

Intended for subway platforms when NYC was bankrupt and many of the ad sites in the subway were vacant, this project questioned how another kind of advertising, not product directed and not specific, might foment a desire for a different kind of fantasy space. At the time I saw ads as commodifying the hopes and dreams of an increasingly over-determined form of subjectivity, hence my own desire to see if I

could use the techniques of advertising to short-circuit this process within a public space while at the same time calling attention to this process of subjugation.

Installation. Subway Proposal 1979 for NYC subways Published in Wedge magazine, NYC 1981



Senslines, 1979

The Women’s Building, Los Angeles, 1979

Senselines sought to provoke, ala Allan Kaprow, an unrehearsed response in both the performer and audience. It took place across two spaces; the dark, barely habited parking lots around the Women’s building and within the Women’s Building itself. Several participants, each at different times, were given set of activities to perform, which sometimes caused them to be included within one another’s activities. None of the performers knew one another and none knew that other performers were intended to participate with them. The performance occurred when they figured this out through the activity of performing. Senselines communicated somehow What we who knew

what we did Sometimes thought about But not always to each other Surveillance of an audience / signaling to one another Surveillance of one another / signaling to an audience Imagined or not 10 sound – movers outside 1 sound – maker inside Audience all around.

Performance for an inside and outside space First performed. The Women’s Building, Los Angeles, 1979.

Related publications:

Liminal Zones / Coursing Flows, Judith Barry, Download Link



Kaleidoscope, 1978

San Francisco Museum of Art 1978

Initially a ‘soap-opera like’ performance staged at noon over two weeks in a cinema-like theater in the round, these (8) 5 minute scenes probe the dynamics of a middle class couple as they explore how even feminists succumb to the tyranny of power. Each day the order of the performance changed and one character, both played by women, would seem to win. The ensuing videotape and later interactive video display are an answer to the question – what ever happened to performance art…

Performance/single channel video, video array. First exhibited as a performance, San Francisco Museum of Art 1978

Related publications:

Are You Ready for TV ?, Judith Barry, Download Link



They Agape, 1978

Mabuhay Gardens, San Francisco 1978

This two projector (channel) film about two women architects is based three ideas. One, the Greek notion of ‘agape’ - a very particular kind of love. Two, Structuralist filmmaking, in particular its anti-pleasure point-of-view. Three, soap opera’s evil/ angry women whose ability to transgress gives them power. The voice-over dialogue outlining the mistrust the two women feel towards each other and the punk music sound track belie the lyrical cinema-verite style filmmaking. Shown predominantly in punk clubs, the films played on two differently sized screens, separated by a great distance.

Related publications:

Are You Ready for TV ?, Judith Barry, Download Link


ArtForum, Tyler Curtis, Downlaod Link
Dis-play / Re-play,  New Yorker, Download Link
New York Times, Martha Schwendener, Download Link

Project page



Cup/Couch, 1978

San Francisco, 1978

Cup/Couch examined the relationship between acting and being acted upon in a systematic linguistic exploration of the difference between ‘telling’ and ‘doing’. The reciprocally between the two performers, each of whom attempts autonomy of action in a ‘pure’ sense as well as the modes of representation utilized were underscored in 20 scenes that operated along the continuum between ‘metaphor’ and ‘metonymy’ and the psychoanalytic tropes of ‘condensation’ and ‘displacement’. While each performer was concerned with performing autonomous

scenes, each also interrupted the other performance, thus demonstrating their inter-connectedness and maintaining/exposing the reciprocity of these terms.

Performance in 20 scenes with pre-recorded/live video, slides, projection, audio 1978. First performed La Mamelle, San Francisco, 1978.

Related publications:

Are You Ready for TV ?, Judith Barry, Download Link



See How to be an American Woman, 1978

Bologna, 1978

This performance situates women’s lives as a series of potential horrors – short stories in Italian of rape, childbirth, abortion, infidelity, marriage, divorce and aging are mixed into a punk rock sound track featuring versions of the Peggy Lee song, “Is that all there is…”. As the hour-long tape plays, a naked woman sits on a table at the fair staring out. Sometimes she performers in a large hall, undressing other women in the audience, inviting them to sit naked with her, and stare out. The work

addresses issues of nudity vs. pornography, women as subject/ object, and as performs/spectator (among other things…)

Performance in two venues. Bologna Art Fair and Museum of Modern Art, Bologna, 1978

Related publications:

Are You Ready for TV ?, Judith Barry, Download Link



Pastpresentfuturetense...ppft, 1977

San Francisco 1977

A room, suggestive of many other spaces – a waiting room, a train station and S+M den - hid 4000 lbs of sand in the ceiling. While I made action sculptures out of wire mesh, fragmented narratives of women’s lives projected on 3 screens behind me. A mellifluous voice cohered these fragments into a story. Finally, I lay in the hammock and as buckets of sand poured over me, suddenly the curtain of sand in the ceiling was released, covering me. When it finished, the performance was over. The piece stayed on view as an installation.

Performance installation. 3 slide projections, 2 sound tracks, 4000 pounds of silica sand, wire mesh, hooks. First exhibited 80 Langton Street, San Francisco 1977.

Related publication:

Spectacle & Subjectivity, Johanna Drucker, Download Link

Articulate Spatial Projections, Gary Sangster Download Link



Solo at the Sink/So Low at the Sink, 1974

Mabuhay Gardens, 1975

From the series: “ How visual does an art work have to be to be an art work?” 1974 – 1982. In trying to figure out what I could do in/with performance, I decided very consciously to explore sound as performance within a social space and as a way of producing a sense of space. The central question being: did it have to be visual to produce a visual effect? Could it be of a short duration? I called these works ‘time gestures’ after gesture drawings or ‘soundshots’ after snapshots. I saw the works in this

series as questioning the nature of the art object  especially how an object produces both presence and absence --- a dilemma central to conceptual art as well as phenomenology and Structualist thinking.

Performance / Installation 1974-75. First performed at SFAI, 1974. First installed, Mabuhay Gardens, 1975.

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