Sunday, February 13, 2011

David Alvarez reviews Uta Barth

Uta Barth: Nowhere Near
Uta Barth was born in Berlin, Germany in 1958 and now lives and woks in Los Angeles. Unlike most photographers whom tend to focus on one subject or another to inform the content, Barth tends to blur her images so there is no clear subject. To accomplish her preferred aesthetic Barth not only experiments with focus, as previously mentioned, but with depth of field and framing to create photographs that are suggestive rather than descriptive. Moreover, Barth sees photography in two distinct ways; firstly in the technical aspect (the camera as an actual representation device). The second is much more conceptual; a metaphor for the human consciousness; an extension of the human psyche if you will.

In 1999 Barth presented a series of work entitled Nowhere Near: the photographs in this series were all shot at her house in LA through her living room window. They documented what she could see from this particular window over and expanse of 12 months. These photographs for me, were slightly boring at at first glance (This might have been different had I seen them the way they should have been exhibited and not pages in a book). However, I was intrigued and how empty they seemed...which made me study them more.

After reading up on both her processes and philosophies, I've come to enjoy the conceptual ideas that she portrays in her images. In my opinion, this series of work pushes an idea that we (as humans) have no control over nature, we just watch. The camera in this case is just an extension of our eye, and the lack of focus creates this feeling of longing (as if something is eluding or grasp) But what is it we are looking for? Is there something past this suburban neighborhood that is Nowhere Near us (Forever at an unreachable distance).

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