sat 22/10/2016

Carl Andre / Rosa Barba, Turner Contemporary | Visual arts reviews, news & interviews

Carl Andre / Rosa Barba, Turner Contemporary

Two seductive exhibitions show that minimalism can be sensuous and analogue timeless

Rosa Barba, Subconscious Society, 2013 © Rosa Barba

Like fellow Berlin resident Tacita Dean, Rosa Barba’s work pays homage to defunct celluloid, even though there’s only one film in her exhibition. The huge projector which hums in the background provides the gentle soundtrack to a silent film surveying the Kent and Margate coasts (pictured above: Subconscious Society, 2013 © Rosa Barba). Shabby, disused buildings and broken piers come into view, and a long aerial shot of the ribbed and undulating sand reminds us of the primordial nature of this stretch of land, before the invention of tourism.

But one can see that it’s the film projector, gleaming white in the shadows, that visitors are far more fascinated by than the moving image. Bisected to reveal its workings, the projector has become a lugubrious kinetic sculpture, a burnished object of admiration and wonder. In a second room, arranged like steadfast sentinels, stand a line of anatomised projectors. In jerkily hypnotic procession, loops of transparent film weave through delicate metal hinges. Whatever is on there, the projectors aren’t giving away their secrets.

The Personal Experience Behind Its Description, 2009 © Rosa BarbaNearby, a manual typewriter punches a code on celluloid, and the film grows like knitted yarn, falling to the floor and bunching up in a tangle. Soon you imagine strips of celluloid completely filling the gallery.

But meaning is dodged and obfuscated. We don’t know if the words spilling from the typewriter relate to the words that have been neatly punched out onto two translucent curtains hanging to the left, which resemble pages torn from an outsized book but whose printed words have become negatives (pictured above right: The Personal Experience Behind Its Description, 2009 © Rosa Barba). Words and letters drift over you, provoking a stream of associations but proving elusive. It’s wonderful to see how much Andre and Barba, with two very strong and resonant exhibitions, so beautifully complement each other.

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