2000Uta Barth: In Between Places, Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle, WA; traveled to Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, TX
nowhere near, Lannan Foundation, Santa Fe, NM
nowhere near, Gallery of Art, Johnson County Community College, Overland Park, KS
1999nowhere near (part one), ACME, Los Angeles, CA
nowhere near (part two), Bonakdar Jancou Gallery, New York, NY
nowhere near (part three), Andréhn-Schiptjenko, Stockholm, Sweden
Uta Barth, Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco, CA
Uta Barth, Galeria Camargo Vilaça, São Paulo, Brazil
1998Uta Barth, Bonakdar Jancou Gallery, New York, NY
Uta Barth, London Projects, London, UK
Uta Barth, ACME., Los Angeles, CA
Uta Barth, Lawing Gallery, Houston, TX
Uta Barth and Imi Knoebel, Studio La Città, Verona, Italy
1997The Wall Project, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL
...in passing, ACME., Santa Monica, California, CA
Uta Barth, Andréhn-Schiptjenko, Stockholm, Sweden
Uta Barth, Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco, CA
Uta Barth, Presentation House Gallery, North Vancouver, Canada
1996Uta Barth, Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York, NY
Uta Barth, London Projects, London, UK
Uta Barth and Michael Snow, S. L. Simpson Gallery, Toronto, Canada
Uta Barth, Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco, CA
1995Uta Barth, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA
Uta Barth, Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York, NY
Uta Barth, ACME., Santa Monica, California, CA
1994Uta Barth and Vikky Alexander, domestic setting, Los Angeles, CA
Uta Barth, Wooster Gardens, New York, NY
1993Index in French, California Museum of Photography, University of California, Riverside, CA
Uta Barth, School of Photographic Arts and Sciences Gallery, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY
1990Uta Barth, Howard Yezersky Gallery, Boston, MA
Critical Distance, Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, MA
The Conceptual Impulse, Security Pacific Gallery, Costa Mesa, CA
1989Deliberate Investigations: Recent Works by Four Los Angeles Artists, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA
Uta Barth, Rio Hondo College Art Gallery, Whittier, CA
1985Emerging Artists, Frederick S. Wight Gallery, University of California, Los Angeles, CA
Galleria by the Water, Los Angeles, CA
Uta Barth and Monique Safford, Galleria by the Water, Los Angeles, CA
SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS
2015 In the Light of the Past: Contemporary Photographs Acquired with the Alfred H. Moses and Fern M. Schad Fund, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
Framing Desire, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth, TX
Director's Cut: recent Photography Gifts to the NCMA, North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, NC
Another Minimalism: Art after California Light and Space, The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland
2014 A World of Its Own: Photographic Practices in the Studio, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
From the Permanent Collection, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
The Bigger Picture: Work from the 1990s, Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York, NY
Left Coast: Recent Acquisitions of Contemporary Art, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, CA
I feel the need to express something, but I don't know what it is I want to express. Or how to express it. Park View, Los Angeles
2013Lost Line, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA
Art Basel, Andréhn-Schiptjenko, Basel, Switzerland
2012In the Holocene, MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, MA
OppenheimerCollection@20, the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, KS
Staring at the Wall: The Arts of Boredom, Lawndale Art Center, Houston, TX
Greetings from Los Angeles, Starkwhite, Auckland, New Zealand
Transparent, Lannan Foundation Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
America in View: Landscape Photography 1865 to Now, Museum of Art, Rhode Island Schoolof Design, Providence, RI
ROLU: Open Field Artist Residency, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN
Telegrams on the Table: An Interrupted Allegory & Picturesque Adventure, World Financial Center Winter Garden, 200 Vesey St. New York, NY
2011Magical Consciousness curated by Runa Islam, Arnolfini, Bristol, UK
Inner Light: The Meaning of Light Between Contemporary Painting and Photography, curated by Ludovico Pratesi, Erica Fiorentini Gallery, Rome
2010Inside Out: Photography After Form: Selections from the Ella Fontanals-Cisneros Collection, Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation (CIFO) Miami, FL
Place as Idea, Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, MA
The Artist Museum, MOCA, Los Angeles and Geffen Contemporary, Los Angeles, CA
Modern Women: Women Artists at The Museum of Modern Art, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
Contemporary Impressionism: light, color, form and time, LA Art House, Los Angeles, CA
Starburst, Color Photography in America 1970 -1980, Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, NJ
Del paisaje recente, Museo Colecciones Ico, Madrid, Spain
Incognito, Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York, NY
Thrice upon a time, Magasin 3 Stockholm Konsthall, Stockholm, Sweden
The Traveling Show, Fundacion/Coleccion Jumex, Mexico
InVisible: Art at the Edge of Perception, Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams, MA
State of Mind: A California Invitational, Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, CA
Meet Me Inside, Gagosian Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
Library of Babel/In and Out of Place, Zabludowicz Collection, London, UK
2009Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
Chelsea Visits Havana, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Havana, Cuba
Elements of Photography, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL
Flower Power, Herter Gallery, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA
The Reach of Realism, Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, MA
Winter Light, 1301PE, Los Angeles, CA
History of Photography in the Microsoft Art Collection, Microsoft Art Collection, Redmond, WA
2008BESart—The Present: An Infinite Dimension, Museu Colecção Berardo, Lisbon, Portugal
Held Together with Water (Spaces / Places), Istanbul Museum of Modern Art, Turkey
Inside/Outside: Interior and Exterior in Contemporary German Photography, Museum Küppersmühle für Moderne Kunst, Innenhafen Duisburg, Germany
Las Vegas Collects Contemporary, Las Vegas Art Museum, NV
Memory Is Your Image of Perfection, Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, CA
SAM at 75: Building a Collection for Seattle, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA
Southern Exposure: Works from the Collection of the San Diego MCA, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia
This Side of Paradise: Body and Landscape in L.A. Photographs, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California; traveled as Le paradis, ou presque: Los Angeles (1865–2008) to Musée de l'Elysée, Lausanne, Switzerland, and Musée Nicéphore Niépce, Chalon-sur-Saône, France
Affinities, Alignments, Collisions, 601Artspace, New York, NY
Gallery Koyanagi, Tokyo, Japan
Photographic Works (To Benefit the Foundation for Contemporary Arts), Cohan and Leslie, New York, NY
Seeing the Light, Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York, NY
2007Depth of Field: Modern Photography at the Metropolitan, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Overland Park, KS
Seeing Things, Dorsky Gallery, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA
Viewfinder, Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, WA
Final Exhibition at 4 Clifford Street, Alison Jacques Gallery, London, UK
Is this all there is to fire? A show about boredom, High Energy Constructs, Los Angeles, CA
Mar Vista, domestic setting, Los Angeles, CA
Multiple Vantage Points: Southern California Women Artists, 1980–2006, Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
2006City Limits: Shanghai–Los Angeles, University Art Museum, California State University, Long Beach, CA
New Acquisitions, Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden
Tracking and Tracing: Contemporary Art Acquisitions 2000–2005, San Diego Museum of Art, CA
Shifting Terrain, Herter Gallery, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA
Whisper Not! Huis Marseille / H+F Collection, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Inner go go, vamiali's, Athens, Greece
Los Ángeles, México: Complejidades y heterogeneidad, Colección Jumex, Mexico City, Mexico
Paisajes fotográficos, entre la topografía y la abstracción, PHotoEspaña 2006, Madrid, Spain
2005Back from Nature, Institute of Contemporary Art, Maine College of Art, Portland, ME
Frontiers: Collecting the Art of our Time, Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, MA
New View, Gallery of Art, Carlsen Center, Johnson County Community College, Overland Park, KS
Out There: Landscape in the New Millennium, Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland, OH
Southern Exposure, Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, CA
Das verlorene Paradies: Die Landschaft in der zeitgenössischen Photographie, Stiftung Opelvillen, Rüsselsheim, Germany
Controlled, Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York, NY
Double Exposure, Galerie Graff, Montreal, Canada. Traveled to Inman Gallery, Houston, and Godt-Cleary Projects, Las Vegas, NV
Barbara Krakow Gallery, Boston, MA
Beyond Delirious: Architecture in Selected Photographs from the Ella Fontanals Cisneros Collection, Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation, Miami, FL
2004Atmosphere, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL
From House to Home: Picturing Domesticity, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA
In Focus: Themes in Photography, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY
The World Becomes a Private World, Mills College Art Museum, Oakland, CA
Pairings, Dallas Center for Contemporary Art, Dallas, TX
Photography and Place: Contemporary Work from the Museum's Collection, Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI
Double Exposure, Shearburn Gallery, St. Louis. Traveled to Pulliam Deffenbaugh Gallery, Portland, Oregon; Traywick Contemporary, Berkeley, California; Galeria 2000 GbR, Nuremberg, Germany; and Brigitte March, Stuttgart, Germany
Barbara Krakow Gallery, Boston, MA
Dranoff Fine Art, New York, NY
Winter Time, ACME., Los Angeles, CA
Godt-Cleary Gallery, Las Vegas, NV
Neue Editionen, Edition Schellmann, Munich, Germany
Adam Baumgold Gallery, New York, NY
Landscape, Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco, CA
2003Moving Pictures: Contemporary Photography and Video from the Guggenheim Museum Collections, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Traveled to Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain
Public Record, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA
Imagine: Selections from the Permanent Collection, Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, FL
New Selections from the Permanent Collection, Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA
Imperfect Innocence: The Debra and Dennis Scholl Collection, Contemporary Museum, Baltimore, and Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art, Lake Worth, FL
ACME. @ Inman, Inman Gallery, Houston, TX
Edition Speciale, Galerie Suzanne Tarasieve, Paris, France
Double Exposure, Barbara Krakow Gallery, Boston, MA
Beside, ACME., Los Angeles, CA
2002History/Memory/Society: Displays from the Permanent Collection, Tate Modern, London, UK
Visions of America: Photography from the Whitney Museum Collection, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
We Love Painting: Contemporary Art from the Misumi Collection, Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Japan
Looking at America, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT
Global Address, Fisher Gallery, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Majestic Sprawl: Some Los Angeles Photography," Pasadena Museum of California Art, Pasadena, CA
<Stepping Back, Moving Forward> Human Interaction in an Interactive Age, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, PA
Double Exposure, Edition Schellmann, Munich, Germany. Traveled to Edition Schellmann, New York, NY
Strolling Through an Ancient Shrine and Garden, ACME., Los Angeles, CA
2001From the Permanent Collection, Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA
00/01, James Harris Gallery, Seattle, WA
The Dreams That Stuff Is Made Of: Selections Show (curated by David Pagel), Frankfurt Art Fair, Frankfurt, Germany
2000Open Ends: White Spectrum, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
Departures: 11 Artists at the Getty, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA
Tate Modern: Ten Artists, Ten Images, Tate Modern, London, UK
Insites: Interior Spaces in Contemporary Art, Whitney Museum of American Art at Champion, CT
A Lasting Legacy, Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA
Photography Now: An International Survey of Contemporary Photography, Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans, LA
Beyond Boundaries: Contemporary Photography in California, The Friends of Photography/Ansel Adams Center for Photography, San Francisco; traveled to University Art Museum, California State University, Long Beach, and Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum, Santa Barbara, CA
Imperfectum (organized by Riksutstillinger: National Touring Exhibitions), Museet for Samtidskunst, Oslo, Norway. Traveled in Norway to Rogaland Kunstmuseum, Stavanger; Trondheim Kunstmuseum, Trondheim; Fylkesgalerie, Namsos; Bomullsfabrikken, Arendal; Billedgalerie, Haugesund; BodoKunstforening, Bodo; and Aalesunds Kunstforening, Aalesund
Muscle: Power of the View, Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, Boulder, CO
Photography about Photography, Andrew Kreps, New York, NY
Manifesto!, Blue Gallery, London, UK
ACME., Los Angeles, CA
Bonakdar Jancou Gallery, New York, NY
Frame: Uta Barth, Duncan Higgins, Carter Potter, Site Gallery, Sheffield, UK
1999Apposite Opposites, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL
Domesticated, Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, MA
Heads Up: Highlights from the Permanent Collection, Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, FL
Photography: An Expanded View, Recent Acquisitions, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY. Traveled to Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain
Umeå kommuns konstinköp under 90—talet i urval, BildMuseet Umeå, Umeå, Sweden
double vision, Nexus Contemporary Art Center, Atlanta, GA
The Stroke: An Overview of Contemporary Painting (curated by Nine Painters), Exit Art, New York
Shift, ACME., Los Angeles, CA
Rattling the Frame: The Photographic Space 1977–1999, San Francisco Camerawork, San Francisco, CA
Under/Exposed, Public Art Project, Stockholm, Sweden
The 15th National Biennial Exhibition of the Los Angeles Printmaking Society, Laband Art Gallery, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, CA
Kerlin Gallery, Dublin, Ireland
Threshold: Invoking the Domestic in Contemporary Art, John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, WI. Traveled to Contemporary Art Center of Virginia, Virginia Beach, VA
1998Abstract Painting, Once Removed, Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; traveled to Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MO; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL; and Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York, NY
Directions: Photography from the Permanent Collection, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
Mysterious Voyages: Exploring the Subject of Photography, Contemporary Museum, Baltimore, MD
New to Houston, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX
Photography's Multiple Roles: Art, Documents, Market, Science, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, IL
Selections from the Permanent Collection, Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, FL
Claustrophobia, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, UK. Traveled to Middlesbrough Art Gallery, Middlesbrough, UK; Harris Museum, Preston, UK; Mapping Art Gallery, Sheffield, UK; Cartwright Hall, Bradford, UK; Esbjerg Kunstmuseum, Denmark; and Centre for Visual Arts, Cardiff, Wales, UK
From the Heart: The Power of Photography (Sondra Gilman Collection), Art Museum of South Texas, Corpus Christi, TX
Multiplicity, Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery, Nashville, TN
Photography at Princeton, Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, NJ
Uta Barth, Nancy Chunn, Anthony Caro, Institute of Contemporary Art, Maine College of Art, Portland, ME
(Not Pictured) The Presence of Absence, The Light Factory, Charlotte, NC
New Editions, Brooke Alexander/Brooke Alexander Editions, New York, NY
Picture Show, Weinstein Gallery, Minneapolis, MN
Precursor, Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York, NY
LA Cool, Rocket Gallery, London, UK
LA Cool, Brüning + Zischke, Düsseldorf, Germany
Women Who Shoot, Newspace, Los Angeles, CA
Spread, Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco, CA
Preview, London Projects, London, UK
Multiples, Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Portland, OR
Situacionismo, Galeria OMR, Mexico City, Mexico
1997Blueprint, De Appel Foundation, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Defining Eye: Women Photographers of the Twentieth Century, St. Louis Art Museum, MO. Traveled to Mead Art Museum, Amherst College, Amherst, MA; Wichita Art Museum, KS; UCLA Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA; and The National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C.
Developing a Collection: The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation and the Art of Photography, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA
Elusive Paradise: Los Angeles Art from the Permanent Collection, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA
Evidence: Photography and Site, Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio; traveled to Cranbrook Art Museum, Bloomfield Hills, MI; The Power Plant, Toronto, Canada; and Miami Art Museum, Miami, FL
Heart, Mind, Body, Soul: American Art in the 1990s, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
New Acquisitions: Works on Paper, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL
Object and Abstraction: Contemporary Photography, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY Painting into Photography/Photography into Painting, Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, FL
Scene of the Crime, Armand Hammer Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA
Spheres of Influence, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA
Anthony Caro, Uta Barth & Nancy Chunn, Institute of Contemporary Art, Maine College of Art, Portland, ME
Coda: Photographs by Uta Barth, Günther Forg, Jack Pierson, and Carolien Stikker, Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY
Digital Ink: Uta Barth, Peter Halley, William Leavitt, James Welling, Center for Visual Communication, Coral Gables, FL
Light Catchers, Bennington College Art Gallery, Bennington, VT
Passing the Tradition: California Photography, José Drudis-Biada Art Gallery, Mount St. Mary's College, Los Angeles, CA
Uta Barth, Jean Baudrillard, Luigi Gherri, Parco Gallery, Tokyo, Japan
Uta Barth, Rineke Dijkstra, Tracey Moffatt, Inez van Lamsweerde, Matthew Marks Gallery, New York, NY
Summer show, Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York, NY
Twenty years...almost, Robert Miller Gallery, New York, NY
Making Pictures, Bernard Toale Gallery, Boston, MA
Portraits of Interiors, Gallery Blancpain Stepczynski, Geneva, Switzerland
L.A. International Biennial: Portraits of Interiors, Patricia Faure Gallery, Santa Monica, CA
Grands Maîtres du XXième, Galerie Vedovi, Brussels, Belgium
ACME., Santa Monica, CA
pool, Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco, CA
1996Defining the Nineties: Consensus-making in New York, Miami, and Los Angeles, Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, FL
Just Past: The Contemporary in the Permanent Collection, 1975–96, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA
Light · Time · Focus, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, IL
Painting: The Extended Field, Rooseum: Centre for Contemporary Art, Malmö, Sweden. Traveled to Magasin 3, Stockholm Konsthall, Stockholm, Sweden
Absence, Guggenheim Gallery, Chapman University, Orange, CA
Clarity, NIU Art Gallery, Northern Illinois University, Chicago, IL
Making Pictures: Women and Photography, 1975–Now, Nicole Klagsbrun, New York, NY
Portraits of Interiors, Studio la Città, Verona, Italy
silence, Lawing Gallery, Houston, TX
ACME., Santa Monica, CA
Extended Minimal, Max Protetch, New York, NY
Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York, NY
Blind Spot: The First Four Years, Paolo Baldacci Gallery, New York, NY
Nature Redux, Channing Peak Gallery, Santa Barbara Arts Commission, Santa Barbara, CA. Traveled to Harris Art Gallery, University of La Verne, CA
...e la chiamano pittura, Studio la Città, Verona, Italy
Wrestling with the Sublime: Contemporary German Art in Southern California, Main Art Gallery, California State University, Fullerton, CA
Chalk, Factory Place Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
Swag & Puddle, The Work Space, New York, NY
1995Human / Nature, The New Museum, New York, NY
New Photography 11, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY Plan, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA
Contemporary Photography from the Permanent Collection, Princeton Art Museum, Princeton, NJ Content and Discontent, Bruce Museum, Greenwich, CT. Traveled to University Gallery, Moscow, ID, and Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL
ACME., Santa Monica, CA
Contemporary Collections-Fall 95, Los Angeles Center for Photographic Studies, Los Angeles, CA
Between Breath and Air: Uta Barth, Karin Davie, Shirley Irons, Patrick Callary Gallery, New York, NY
Contemporary Collections—Spring 95, Los Angeles Center for Photographic Studies, Los Angeles, CA
From Here to There: Tactility and Distraction, California Medical Arts, Santa Monica, CA
Sitting Pretty, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, Los Angeles, CA
Neotoma, Otis Art Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
ACME., Santa Monica, CA
Presence: Recent Portraits, Angles Gallery, Santa Monica, CA
Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco, CA
1994The Abstract Urge, The Friends of Photography/Ansel Adams Center for Photography, San Francisco, CA
Breda Fotografica '94, De Beyerd Center of Contemporary Art, Breda, The Netherlands
Love in the Ruins, Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach, CA
New Acquisitions, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA
Flow, Cerritos College Art Gallery, Cerritos, CA
Diverse Perspectives, San Bernardino County Museum of Art, San Bernardino, CA
Diderot and the Last Luminaire, Waiting for the Enlightenment (A Revised Encyclopedia) or The Private Life of Objects, Southern Exposure at Project Artaud, San Francisco, CA; traveled to SITE, Los Angeles, CA
ACME., Santa Monica, CA
The World of Tomorrow, Tom Solomon's Garage, Los Angeles, CA
Issues of Image, Haines Gallery, San Francisco, CA
Transtextualism, Mark Moore Gallery, Santa Monica, CA
Gallery 954, Chicago, IL
Jayne Baum Gallery, New York, NY
1993Index in French, California Museum of Photography, Riverside, CA
A Carafe, That Is a Blind Glass..., Weingart Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
P.O.P.—A Trilogy, Susan Landau Gallery/1529 Wellesley, Los Angeles, CA
Project Box, domestic setting, Los Angeles, CA
From Without, The Portfolio, Los Angeles, CA
1992Voyeurism, Jayne Baum Gallery, New York, NY
Abstraction in the '90s, Jan Kesner Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
FAR Bazzar, Foundation for Art Resources (FAR), Los Angeles, CA
Jayne Baum Gallery, New York, NY
1991L.A. Times: Eleven Los Angeles Artists, Boise Art Museum, ID; traveled to Western Gallery, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA
1990Spirit of Our Time, Contemporary Arts Forum, Santa Barbara, CA
The Conceptual Impulse, Security Pacific Gallery, Costa Mesa, CA
1989Deliberate Investigations: Recent Works by Four Los Angeles Artists, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA
Inland Empire Artist Exhibition, San Bernardino County Museum of Art, Redlands, CA
The Narrative Frame, Rio Hondo College Art Gallery, Whittier, CA
University Art Gallery, University of California, Riverside, CA
Uta Barth, Jeff Beall, Paul Boettcher, Eric Magnuson, Roy Boyd Gallery, Santa Monica, CA
Thick and Thin: Photographically Inspired Painting, Fahey/Klein Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
Unconventional Perspectives, G. Ray Hawkins Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
Logical Conclusions, Jan Kesner Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
1987LAICA Artist Exhibition, Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art, Beverly Hills, CA
The Flower Show, Theatre Art Gallery, Design Center, Los Angeles, CA
1986Proof and Perjury, Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA
1984Werkstadt für Photographie, Berlin, Germany
Photography, Large Scale New Work, Rex W. Wignal Museum Gallery, Alta Loma, CA
198256th Annual Crocker-Kingsley Exhibition, E. B. Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA
Five Photographers, Joseph Dee Museum of Photography, San Francisco, CA
2012Barth, Uta and Paul Soto. Uta Barth: to draw with light. Annandale-on-Hudson: Blind Spot, 2012.
2011Barth, Uta and Jonathan Crary, Russell Ferguson, Tim Martin, and Holly Myers. Uta Barth: The Long Now. New York: Greg R. Miller & Co., 2011.
2006Kaplan, Cheryl. Uta Barth 2006: Just Spanning Time. Minneapolis: Franklin Art Works, 2006.
2004Barth, Uta and Jan Tumlir. Uta Barth: white blind (bright red). Santa Fe: SITE Santa Fe, 2004.
Barth, Uta, Pamela Lee, and Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe; interview with Matthew Higgs; selected writings by Joan Didion. Uta Barth. London: Phaidon, 2004.
2000Barth, Uta and Timothy Martin. Uta Barth: ...and of time. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2000.
Smith, Elizabeth A. T. At the Edge of the Decipherable: Recent Photographs by Uta Barth. 2nd ed. Los Angeles: The Museum of Contemporary Art and St. Ann's Press, 2000.
Conkelton, Sheryl, Russell Ferguson, and Timothy Martin. Uta Barth: In Between Places.Seattle: Henry Art Gallery and University of Washington, 2000.
1999Barth, Uta and Jan Tumlir. Uta Barth: nowhere near. Los Angeles: ACME., New York: Bonakdar Jancou Gallery, and Stockholm: Andréhn-Schiptjenko, 1999.
Barth, Uta, and Jan Tumlir. Uta Barth: nowhere near. Overland Park, Kansas: Johnson County Community College Art Gallery, 1999.
1995Smith, Elizabeth A. T. At the Edge of the Decipherable: Recent Photographs by Uta Barth. Los Angeles: The Museum of Contemporary Art, 1995.
2012Mirlesse, Sabine. "Interview: Sabine Mirlesse in Conversation with Uta Barth." BOMB Magazine 22 March 2012.
Stolz, George. "Uta Barth: Interviewed by George Stolz." ArtReview 15 June 2012.
Turner, Cameron. "Interview: Against Narrative: Uta Barth on Photography, Experience, and Perception." Precipitate: Journal of the New Environmental Imagination vol. 3 issue 1 2012.
2011Soto, Paul. "Literal Photography: Q + A with Uta Barth." Art in America on-line interview 8 October 2011.
2010Barber, Tim. "Uta Barth Interview." THIRTY DAYS – NY 25 April 2010.
2007Horvitz, David. "Uta Barth: Interviewed by David Horvitz." ANP Quarterly no. 9 November 2007: 21–32.
2006Kaplan, Cheryl. "Die Zeit überbrücken...Ein Gespräch mit Uta Barth." Deutsche Bank ArtMag no. 34 April 2006.
2005Myers, Holly. "Uta Barth." Los Angeles Times 20 May 2005.
1997Conkelton, Sheryl. "Uta Barth." Journal of Contemporary Art vol. 8 no. 1 Summer 1997.
SELECTED BOOKS, EXHIBITION CATALOGUES AND OTHER PUCLICATIONS
2013Tate Diary 2013. London: Tate Museum, 2013.
2012America in View: Landscape Photography 1865 to Now. Providence: Museum of Art RISD, 2012.
2011Anthes, Bill and Rebeckah Mondrak. Reframing Photography: Theory and Practice. Oxon: Taylor & Francis, 2011.
Klein, Jacky. "Artists On Artists: The Art of the Past by Artists of the Present." London: Thames and Hudson, 2011.
Millian, Monica. "An Unofficial Biography of Uta Barth: Contemporary Abstract Photography." Webster's Digital Services 24 March 2011.
Wolinski, Natacha. "Traces de Presences." Air France Magazine October 2011.
2010Cohen, Joshua. "Camera Obscura: Novelist Tao Lin projects his life as a series of boredom-filled blog posts." BOOKFORUM vol. 17 issue 3 September-November 2010 (ill).
Gebbers, Anna Catharina, et al. The Library of Babel: In and Out of Place. London: Zabludowicz Collection, 2010.
Krump, James, Kevin Moore, and Larry Rubinfien. Starburst, Color Photography in America 1970 -1980. Princeton: Princeton University Art Museum, 2010.
Marzio, Peter. American Art & Philanthropy. Houston: The Museum of Fine Arts, 2010.
Praun, Tessa. "Thrice Upon a Time." Stockholm: Magazin 3 Stockholm Konsthall, 2010.
Zavistovski, Katia. "Come Curious." Art 21 7 June 2010.
2009Rexer, Lyle. The Edge of Vision: The Rise of Abstraction in Photography. New York: Aperture Foundation, 2009.
2008Bohn-Spector, Claudia, and Jennifer A. Watts. This Side of Paradise: Body and Landscape in Los Angeles Photographs. San Marino: Huntington Library, and London: Merrell, 2008.
The Broad Contemporary Art Museum at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2008.
Förster, Simone, Franck Hofmann, and Walter Smerling. Inside/Outside:Interior and Exterior in Contemporary German Photography. Innenhafen Duisburg: Museum Küppersmühle für Moderne Kunst, and Cologne: Wienand Verlag, 2008. 56.
Horvitz, David. "Uta Barth." A Wikipedia Reader 2008.
Kent, Rachel, and Stephanie Hanor. Southern Exposure. San Diego: Museum of Contemporary Art, and Sydney: Museum of Contemporary Art, 2008.
Smith, Owen F. "Conceptual Art as a Neurobiologic Praxis and The Neuro-aesthetic Reading Room." Histories and Theories of Intermedia blog 2008.
2007Angier, Roswell. Train Your Gaze: A Practical and Theoretical Introduction to Portrait Photography. Lausanne: AVA Publishing SA, 2007.
Depth of Field: Modern Photography at the Metropolitan. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2007.
Held Together With Water: Art from the Sammlung Verbund. Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz, 2007. 396.
Horvitz, David. Is that all there is to fire? A show about boredom. Los Angeles: High Energy Constructs, 2007.
Krajewski, Sara.Viewfinder. Catalogue. Seattle: Henry Art Gallery, 2007.
Richardson, Trevor, ed. Landscape Tropologies. Amherst: The University of Massachusetts, 2007.
Roberts, Pamela. A Century of Colour Photography.London: Andre Deutsch, 2007.
Schor, Gabriele, ed. Held Together with Water: Kunst aus der Sammlung Verbund. Vienna: Verbund Collection, 2007. 378.
2006Chee, Yeonsoo, and Constance W. Glenn, eds. City Limits: Shanghai–Los Angeles. Long Beach: University Art Museum, California State University, 2006.
Davila, Iago, ed. Naturaleza: PHE06. Madrid: La Fabrica, 2006.
Fernández, Horacio. El paisaje fotografíco reciente: De la imagen al territorio. Madrid: Museo Colecciones ICO, 2006.
Weatherspoon Art Gallery, University of North Carolina, Greensboro
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Worchester Art Museum, Worchester, Massachusetts
Zabludowicz Collection, London
Uta Barth: Seeing Is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees
By Lyra Kilston, ArtReview
This past year, Uta Barth moved for the first time in 18 years. While packing up and leafing through her possessions, she came across some photographs she had never shown, and in fact had completely forgotten about. Made between 1979 and 1982, during her last year of college and her first months in graduate school at University of California, Los Angeles, the small black-and-white images were displayed in the gallery's bottom floor rooms. The images included studies of a ribbon of sunlight gleaming beneath a heavy curtain, shadows of legs in a rectangle of light, portraits of the artist with three-fourths of her body in shadow and then in brightness, empty chairs, a field of snow with just a few naked twigs, and a series of banal objects (a newspaper, wires, a ladder) moved around a room. Barth stated, in the gallery's accompanying monograph, that she was deeply pleased to discover that the elements she has ardently pursued in her work - tracking time, tracing light, vacant centres, minimal and peripheral content - were present nearly 30 years ago. This show, with older, forgotten work on the first floor and a new series upstairs, presents the bookends to a remarkably consistent, and distilled practice.
In the past few decades, Barth has become known for contemplative photographs of domestic scenes devoid of action, let alone humans. Golden slices of sunlight spill neatly onto floors and furniture embodying the serenity of late afternoons spent watching the room slowly change, while her studies of flowers and branches in vases hum with a reverence for the simple beauty found in observing the everyday. Barth has long followed the Zen notion of what she calls a 'choice of no choice': she refrains from intentionally seeking out photographic subjects and instead turns her camera towards what is already around her - the sundial of her home. Through this disciplined practice, her work highlights the act of seeing as an autonomous undertaking. She does not seek out things in order to make a photograph, she makes photographs of what she happens to see.
Upstairs were diptychs, and one triptych, of tree branches twinned with the artist's shadow cast across a street or sidewalk. This signals a significant departure from the past ten years of Barth's working solely inside (a confinement that conjures another housebound creative mind, Emily Dickinson, who was also captivated by 'a certain slant of light' in which 'shadows hold their breath'). Barth wandered outside and pointed her camera up, and then down. Sometimes the artist's feet are visible along with the two long shadows of her legs cast against the grain of asphalt-dark lines creating angles as they cross sidewalk cracks or the dividing paint on a street. The tree branches are all set against a stark white sky, photographed so that only the centre of the image is in focus, the rest of the splintering branches, leaves or berries blurring into near abstraction. The result is a surreal, almost artificially constructed version of the branches, reminiscent of JoAnn Verburg's uncanny portraits of olive trees. Occasionally Barth takes further liberties with representation, as in two prints where the negative images of her legs' shadows throw chalky white lines across the darkened pavement, a reminder that we are looking at an imprint of light, not the world.
The title of this show, appropriately, is another Zen koan made popular among the art crowd by Lawrence Weschler's brilliant book about Robert Irwin. (Both Irwin and Barth also share a debt to the local light, so raucously present here.) Barth described her recent perambulations outside as without destination, aimed only at seeing - thus we never look straight ahead, but only at what light and shadow are doing above and below the artist's body. For more than 30 years Barth has stayed true to a pursuit of perception, each portrait capturing time, light and, yes, even being with exquisite grace.
Interview with Uta Barth
Sheryl Conkelton, Journal of Contemporary Art
Uta Barth's recent project examines the conventions of photographic presentation. Over the past three years she has created two series, Ground and Field , which consist of blurred images generated by focusing the camera on an unoccupied foreground. These unframed, empty images present only background information, implying the absence of subject and referring to the function of images as containers of information. The untitled images of Ground show landscapes and interiors and make reference to the compositional conventions of still photography and painting. The images in Field , Barth's latest series, mimic cinematic framing conventions in a subtle query of the visual structures that imply movement or activity in the foreground.
Sheryl Conkelton: In each of your series, beginning with your earliest work, you have explored the formal and cultural conventions of image making, drawing attention to problematic aspects encountered in the production of imagery and in the reading/response to it. Your early work was confrontational in its conception and its presentation; I'm thinking about the early photographs of you under an interrogating gaze that were shown at the Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art (LAICA) as well as the mix of optical illusion, abstraction and photographed vignettes from the Untitled series shown in Deliberate Investigations at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1989. The Ground series is much more seductive (as are the Fields ). Would you talk about your moving from a somewhat aggressive stance in the earlier series to this more unified and quieter imaging in the latest series, and about the affect on the viewer you are exploring?
Uta Barth: Actually the shift was not dramatic. One body of work literally grew out of the other. The very first "background" images appeared within the groupings you mention, juxtaposed with optical painting, large monochromatic fields of color and other photographs. I became very interested in them and started a separate series of landscape backgrounds which were based on vernacular conventions/snapshot photography of people in front of scenic landscapes. At that time I had made a very conscious decision to produce several projects that were formally quite different yet linked by addressing different aspects of vision, thereby bringing the activity of looking to the foreground as the common denominator. I wanted these three formally and structurally quite different projects to be exhibited simultaneously so it would be evident that the territory of the work was at the point of intersection. Previously people tended to get easily lost by the formal aspects of my work or became preoccupied by reading a certain "politic of the gaze" as the overpowering and singular "meaning," and I wanted to confuse and complicate that reading and shift into larger questions that could cover more territory. At a certain point I felt that the background images, in and of themselves - in a much simpler way - did what I wanted my work to do for a long time: they quite literally inhabit the space between the viewer and the piece hanging on the wall and they do transfer one's visual attention beyond the edges of the picture, onto the wall it is hanging on, into the room as a whole, to the light in the room and even outside again... Their scale and composition is vaguely familiar, reminiscent of other pictures we may know. I am interested in the quietness of the new work and how that allows these associations to be noticed.
Conkelton: The spectator plays a very active role in arriving at/determining meaning for your work. Could you elaborate on that role in terms of what you intend as well as the larger (aesthetic or philosophical) significance of the viewer's participation?
Barth: It seems to me that the work invites confusion on several levels, and that "meaning" is generated in the process of "sorting things out." On the most obvious level, we all expect photographs to be pictures of something. We assume that the photographer observed a place, a person, an event in the world and wanted to record it, point at it. There is always something that motivated the taking of a photograph. The problem with my work is that these images are really not of anything in that sense, they register only that which is incidental and peripheral implied. Instead, there are some clues to indicate that what we are looking at is the surrounding information. (The images lack focus because the camera's attention is somewhere else. Many of the compositions, while clearly deliberate and carefully arranged in relation to the picture's edge, are awkward, off balance and formally suggest a missing element.) Slowly it becomes clear that what we are presented with is a sort of empty container and it is at that point that people begin to "project" into this space. It begins to read as an empty screen. A second aspect might be that many people relate to the pictures in terms of memory. They are pretty saturated with the formal conventions of portraiture and one has a sense of inescapable familiarity when looking at them. What comes to mind is an entire inventory of other pictures seen. The point of engagement that perhaps interests me the most, though, has to do with one's perceptual reorientation in relation to the pictures when trying to decode the space described. If the "subject" is not fixed within the image on the wall, but instead is indicated to be in front of that, then the "location" of the work hangs somewhere between the viewer and the wall, in that empty space we are looking through. In some images, when you locate the camera's point of focus, you will find it to be that of an extreme closeup. The location of the implied subject is pushed so far forward that it aligns itself with the very place one is standing in front of the picture. So suddenly the imagined "subject" and the viewer are standing in the same place. The dynamic brings to mind one of the traditional questions raised about minimalist art: what has happened to the subject/where is the subject located when you are looking at an empty room or a seemingly blank wall? The answer, of course is that the viewer is the subject in/of this work.
Conkelton: I am interested in the notion of confusion, in its usefulness "even power" as a mechanism that triggers or motivates a viewer's response. I think it relates to minimalism, too, in this way: that minimal art proposes that a viewer relocates her or his self in relation to the object and its space, presenting a confrontation or a confusion of subject and object.
Barth: A certain kind of confusion or questioning is the starting place of confronting much of the work. Certain expectations are unfulfilled: expectations of what a photograph normally depicts, of how we are supposed to read the space in the image, of how a picture normally presents itself on the wall (contained and enclosed by a frame that demarcates the area of interest and separates it from all that surrounds it in the room), etc. This kind of questioning and reorientation is the point of entry and discovery, not only in a cognitive way, but in an most visceral, physical and personal sense. Everything is pointing to one's own activity of looking, to an awareness and sort of hyper-consciousness of visual perception. The only way I know how to invite this experience is by removing the other things (i.e., subject matter) for you to think about. I think all of this adds up to the conflation of subject and object that you are asking about.
Conkelton: I also think that the confusion/relocation of subject is key to the work in terms of actual and discursive spaces that the pieces work in. I am interested in the oscillation of "subject," or more precisely, in the relocation of the meaning between photography's referential, phenomenological aspect and its discursive, ontological aspect. In both the Ground and Field series there are multiple possibilities: to respond to the photographs as images of something, as objects in a room with particular visual and physical relationships, and as critical inquiry into the nature of photographic reproduction and its limits. I see this tension as a site of engagement and power in your images. There is also an effective tension in the relationship of your images to abstract painting in terms of a shared formal character. That is obviously intentional. Is there a particular aspect, whether it is a subversion of expectation or even a reference to past conceptualizations about these media - painting and photography - that is compelling to you?
Barth: I think the relationship to abstract painting exists most in the interiors. I am not sure how intentional this was at the outset of the project, but at a certain point I realized that my process of selecting, framing and composing these photographs which had no central subject shared much of the territory of, and produced pictures that look similar to, certain minimalist, abstract painting. It is an odd intersection of two projects that at a certain point share a similar investigation. I am interested in this intersection and what it may tell us about the relationship of the two. I obviously invite and acknowledge it, by even the titling of the work: "ground" as in foreground/background, but also figure/ground or even the physical material/surface a painting is made on. I am interested in looking at the interplay between these photographs and particular issues of painting, but I am not using one medium to simply reenact the qualities and characteristics of another. It is not my project to make photographs that "look just like paintings." I think the idea of producing photographs that would simply imitate, mimic or in other ways aspire (implying some odd hierarchy) to be "just like paintings" would be rather problematic and pointless. I know that this is an aside to what you are asking about, but it might be a place to address a related question about all of the Ground and Field pieces which I hear frequently. What I am thinking about is the reading and description of the use of blur in my work as "painterly." I think this is quite inaccurate. Blur, or out-of-focusness due to shallow depth of field, is an inherent photographic condition; actually it is an inherent optical condition that functions in the human eye in exactly the same way it does in a camera lens. It is part of our everyday vision and perception, yet for the most part we are not very aware of it, as our eyes are constantly moving and shifting their point of scrutiny. We do not "see" it unless we make a conscious effort to observe the phenomenon. The camera can "lock-in" this condition and give us a picture which allows us to look at (and focus on) out-of-focusness.
Conkelton: I'd like you to talk about the superficial resemblance of your work to some of Gerhard Richter's efforts: it seems to me (and to others) that Richter is interested in the spectacle of the photographic image of paint and in the reproduction of reproduction, and in the critique of modernism implicit in both these things, whereas your work has always been tied to an investigation of the physiological act of seeing - more immediate, about sensation and allusion; about locating oneself in relation to the work and then to a conceptualization that is not necessarily critique. Would you talk about these ideas?
Barth: I get asked about Richter very often, and while I am a great admirer of his work I am not sure that I can see much, if any, relationship in what we are doing. The comparison is always based on the use of blur, on a similar look to the work. I do think we each end up with this for very different reasons. In my work much of the information in the picture is out of focus because what is depicted in the image lies behind the camera's plane of focus. This has been a device for indicating a foreground, for implying the information not depicted and for lifting that plane off the wall toward the viewer. I think that originally Richter's use of blur came about through creating numerous generations of source material, working from photographs that had been printed in newspapers, then Xeroxed, often repeatedly. The information of the original image became more and more diffuse with each generation and he hung on to the look of that in the paintings, even exaggerating it more. The primary effect of this blurriness in both of our work is that the image becomes generalized, almost generic. Specificity of time and place drop away and one starts to think about the picture, as much as what it is of. I think Richter and I are both making pictures of and about other pictures. I have never been interested in making a photograph that describes what the world I live in looks like, but I am interested in what pictures (of the world) look like. I am interested in the conventions of picture making, in the desire to picture the world and in our relationship, our continual love for and fascination with pictures. I want my work to function on two levels: to elicit the sense of familiarity of looking at an image that has the structures and conventions of a history of picture-making embedded in it, to make you aware of that, and at the same time to shift your attention to the very act of looking (at something) to your own visual perception in that particular moment, in the particular place that you are viewing the picture in. These two things are related.
As far as your question about a "critique of modernism," I think that this critique is so deeply embedded (and embraced) in much of the work that I see being made these days, but it is seldom at the forefront. Maybe it is an argument that has been made, something that we know and work within at this point in time. In looking back it appears that some of the dividing lines between modernism and postmodernism are blurring and some of the areas of investigation that were thrown out are being revisited and rethought. Even thinking about Richter's work, it seems to me that his current painting, in its choice of subject matter, is moving through an archive of what I see as quintessential German imagery, German cultural iconography... I read this as an analysis, an act of collecting and examining, of listing, but not necessarily as a critique.
Conkelton: An important aspect of your work, particularly in the images of interiors in the Ground series, is affected by site-specific installations that recreate the relationship of image and exhibition space. This concern in some way overrides the conceptualization of the images as containers. Do these interiors, in fact, function very differently from the landscapes in the Ground and Field series?
Barth: Yes, I think you are absolutely right about that. The interiors, by sort of laying claim to all of the surrounding space, indite the whole environment, whatever room they are shown in, as part of the work. The project becomes architectural in some sense and, I think, to some degree the space itself becomes the piece and functions as the site of engagement. The Field s are very different in this way. They line up on the wall, in the same scale and screenlike format, spaced irregularly in a way to give the empty wall area as much importance as the actual pieces. They are clearly pictures of other places, outdoor scenes and at best double as a screen within the gallery environment. They are more optical, do not have a static composition of the Ground s, and imply movement both by the camera and whatever activity that is motivating the image. One has a sense of being made aware of one's peripheral vision, of what you see when you turn your head toward something, of what you might see while in motion.
Conkelton: How do you choose your subjects for the individual pictures. Do you have an actual (existing) film image or photograph in mind? Are you working from a typological model (for which you might have a list of types of images that you are trying to exhaust)? Or is it more intuitive and experiential?
Barth: The first images of the Ground series were chosen by seeking out the stereotypical, vernacular, visual vocabulary of what might constitute an ideal scenic or picturesque backdrop. They are almost a listing and reenactment of the most commonly found choices. Most of the images in this series are of nature, some are based on the backdrop conventions of portrait-studio photography - but even there most of the references, while sometimes abstracted, are still of an idealized nature (as in the mottled blue seamless background paper used in yearbook and drivers license pictures to mimic a sunny blue sky). The references to existing images in the interior works become much more subtle. At a certain point of that project, I realized that one of the images I had made ( Ground #30 ) had the exact same proportions, layout of the room and quality of light as that of a Vermeer painting [ The Milk Maid , 1658-60] that I had spent much of my life looking at. This was unintentional on my part when I made this photograph, but it seemed that Vermeer was the perfect subtext for this body of work, and as a reference I made an additional image in the series [ Ground #42 ] which included, in the background, the two small Vermeer reproductions I had grown up with in my home. I have obviously spent much time looking at various periods and styles of portrait painting and photography, ranging from the very self-consciously posed to casual family snapshot images. Early black-and-white Hollywood glamour photography is very interesting for example. Many of these images were made on white sets and the information in the background was created purely through the use of light and shadow. The shadows were often cast by objects and simple geometrical shapes arranged to create some kind of compositional balance in relation to the individual posed for the picture, and these objects are not visible in final photograph. Many of the recent interior images I have made consist almost exclusively of shadow information.
Some other pieces are loosely based on observed imagery that has been overused to impart meaning through context: the large bookcase behind the seated interviewee imparts intellectual authority, the woman posed by the spray of cherry blossoms assumes their beauty and fragility...once you become aware of these cliches you see them everywhere, in the pictures of authors found inside book jackets, on the evening television news and interview programs, etc. These are very clumsy ways to assign meaning. I find them amusing and interesting and have used them in several images of my own. The images in the Field series work much the same way. Most are based on some visual device I have observed in a film, but they are not literal recreations of a particular scene. I think I do have certain styles of filmmaking in mind when I go out to photograph. I end up driving around various neighborhoods of the city looking for a place that is general, neutral enough to not interfere or visually compete with what might take place in the foreground...it is kind of like location scouting. It is not random: I am definitely looking for a place that has very particular, "atmospheric" characteristics.
Conkelton: Many of your installations of works from the recent series are predicated on an ensemble of images working within the confines of a particular space, and you are now in fact working on two projects in which you work very directly with a specific space. How do you proceed with a site-specific project in terms of creating or selecting the images that it comprises?
Barth: The 1994 exhibition at domestic setting [a Los Angeles gallery] was the beginning of the interior project and it was a site-specific piece. This gallery existed in an empty house, and many of the early interior images were photographs made in and for this space. Much of the show consisted of photographs that were pictures of the very wall they were hanging on and the series as a whole was designed for that space. I imagined the space as a home and made pieces that would double for the kind of pictures one might find there. Therefore all of the pieces from this series are different sizes and formats. They were hung in small clusters and pairings throughout the house, in corners and hallways, above the fireplace, much as a collection of family portraits and other pictures might exist in a home. When pieces from this project were installed in other exhibition sites like the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, or the Rooseum in Sweden, they still retained some site-specific quality. Most empty corners and doorways do look alike, so when a picture of a corner is moved to a new space it still tends to read as relating to that particular location. Recently I was commissioned by the Wexner Center to make a work based on their exhibition space, which is a very visually assertive building by Peter Eisenmann. I looked at many floor-plans and photographs of the space before I flew out to see it, and when I spent some time inside the galleries I decided that what I wanted to do was not so much reiterate or even address the overt aspects of the architecture, but instead find a way to articulate the space the viewer would occupy in this very spectacular kind of building. I wanted to find a way to redirect the attention. The piece is simple and consists of three very large photographs of two opposing walls in the north gallery. Two images depict the empty exhibition wall and part of the glass work rising above. The third image is of the opposing wall and it includes, at the very edge, a partial view of a pillar which is located in the center of the gallery space. This pillar is the only information that is depicted in sharp focus in these photographs, thereby articulating the center of the gallery space - the place where you might stand to view the art or the building - as the arena of investigation. The end result of the piece is that these three large photographs of empty walls are actually pointing at and describing the center of the room.
Conkelton: What other projects are you working on now that expand the themes we've been talking about or move you in a new direction?
Barth: Looking back, I find all of this work linked by an interest in visuality and perception. Light has been a theme throughout: in early instances it appears as invasive, interrogational and blinding. In more recent images it is atmospheric and all engulfing. My primary project has always been in finding ways to make the viewer aware of their own activity of looking at something (or in some instances, someone.) The highly optical pieces did this in a rather jarring, confrontational way - inviting voyeurism and at the same time hindering or frustrating your ability to see and decipher an image; the current work by straining your perception of things that are barely visible, in some instances depicting pure light itself. For many years now I have been collecting pictures in which the background interests me, sometimes for purely formal and compositional reasons, at other times because the type of location or subject matter or even some odd relationship occurs between background and subject. Mostly I find them in newspapers and magazines and I cut and crop out the section of interest to me and pin it to my studio wall. I have never directly recreated or reproduced any of these found pictures, but have made images based on them. Recently I have become very interested in this collection of small clippings in and of themselves. They have served as source material, yet function in a very interesting way on their own. Most of them include a small section of a figure that has been cut away. They have a shoulder, a hand or part of a face at the very edge, but because of the way I have cut them, the center of the pictures, the place we are trained to look at, is now empty. I am currently working with a small collection of these images which started out as notes and source material ad using them in a recently published small sketchbook-like portfolio.
This interview was conducted between mid-August and November 1996.
Margaret Sundell, Artforum
Walter Benjamin described aura that intangible quality that distinguishes an object from its photographic reproduction as the effect of a thing's "unique existence." According to Benjamin, not only do photographs lack their own aura, they destroy the ones objects possess by supplanting a singular presence with a potentially infinite number of copies. But ironically, because what it captures is less the object per se than the unrepeatable instant when the object stood in front of the camera's lens, photography heightens our awareness of the very uniqueness it simultaneously undermines. The medium raises the stakes of uniqueness to encompass the passage of time, and, as a result, the object is not lost just once, as it were, in the shift from reality to representation; it is lost endlessly. Or rather, the moment is lost (along with the object) with every fresh act of perception.
It is precisely this aspect of photography to which Uta Barth draws our attention in "nowhere near," 1999, a series of twenty images of the view out the artist's living room window, shot over a twelve-month span. As you move from one work to the next, it takes a few minutes before the realization hits: You've already seen those trees, this telephone pole, that particular patch of grass but from a slightly different angle and suffused with a different shade of light. The rift between the sameness of Barth's subject and the difference of its appearance in each photograph drives home the impossibility of separating the truth of an object from the moment in which it is perceived and, by extension, of ever grasping a thing in its fullness at any given instant. (Barth reiterates this tension on the level of the work's display by dispersing her series in three concurrent exhibitions; in addition to the New York venue, the work could be seen at ACME in Los Angeles and Andrehen-Schiptjenko in Stockholm.)
The photographs in "nowhere near" are not merely singular; they are resolutely partial. Our access to what lies beyond the window is always to some extent blocked - most often by the window frame itself, which cuts a latticework across the scene. Frequently, this obstruction is compounded by an extremely shallow depth of field, which blurs the background into a haze and renders the specks of dust and dirt on the windowpanes almost palpable. The result is a nagging sense of something eluding our grasp. But what? It's hard to imagine a less compelling subject than Barth's nondescript suburban yard. Hence the double entendre of the series' title: Are we looking for something that, although out there, remains at an unbreachable distance, or are we just seeing the nothing that's right there in front of our eyes?
Barth is scarcely the first to assert what might be called photography's "absence-as-presence," and the window as a metaphor for human vision is so well-worn it runs the risk of cliche. But Barth never crosses that line. By making the window an active (often dominant) element, Barth foregrounds the act of perception, of framing and selection. But the blunt matter-of-factness of her photographs keeps them from feeling contrived. (These windows are clearly physical objects, not just metaphorical statements.) The literalness of Barth's images - along with their banal subject matter and serial logic - align "nowhere near" with Conceptual projects like Ed Ruscha's Twentysix Gasoline Stations. However, Barth departs decidedly from Ruscha's snapshot aesthetic. Although dispassionate, her photographs are also slow and deliberate. Barth's work is less a retrenchment from the critical terrain staked out by Conceptualism than an attempt to augment it with what Conceptual art traditionally denies: namely, aesthetics. Barth's work is indeed beautiful, but her ultimate concern is less the power of aesthetics to seduce than its capacity to generate a specific form of knowledge (one that is neither empirical nor conceptual): in this particular case, the knowledge of what it might be like to momentarily inhabit the gap between an object's existence and our ability to pin it down.