The Lab

The Lab is a nonprofit experimental art and performance space located in the Mission District of San Francisco.

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Experience It: Rosa Barba


Rosa Barba is an artist with a particular interest in film and the ways it articulates space. Taking a conceptual approach to filmmaking, questions of composition, physicality of form, and plasticity play an important role in the perception of her work. She interrogates the industry of cinema with respect to various forms of staging, such as gesture, genre, information, and documents, taking them out of the context in which they are normally seen and reshaping and representing them anew. Recent solo exhibitions include Solar Flux Readings, Palacio de Cristal, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (2017); From Source to Poem to Rhythm to Reader, Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan (2017); Spacelength Thought, Secession, Vienna (2017); Elements of Conduct, Malmö Konsthall, Sweden (2017); From Source to Poem, CAPC musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux, France (2016); Blind Volumes, Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt (2016); and Spaces for species (and pieces), Albertinum, Dresden (2015). Barba is based in Berlin.

Immersive exhibitions that stimulate multiple senses—hearing, seeing, tasting, touching, even smelling—are common in contemporary art today. Museums, galleries, biennials, and art fairs are presenting work by artists who interweave objects, images, texts, sound, video, and performance into dense, enveloping environments. These presentations physically implicate viewers in orchestrated situations, both inside and outside the institution, where art and ideas coalesce through the direct experience of space and time. Often complex in the making, the work requires artists and their studios to corral a range of skilled resources to produce something well beyond the expertise and confines of an artist’s studio.

This development speaks to the changing characteristics of the artist figure—manager and artistic director, negotiator and administrator—in reaction to expectations of art institutions and audiences who crave more experiential engagement with contemporary art.

Experience It is a conversation series about this shift. In dialogue with visiting artists, the series examines, among other things, the social and architectural conditions of an exhibition site. The format includes conversations between each artist and curator and art historian James Voorhies, as well as viewings of film clips, performances, and images of their work. Experience It aims to reveal why artists choose their given artistic approaches, how institutions support them, and how they imagine their audiences as integral to the art, ultimately arriving at a better understanding of the “it” in the work.

Organized by James Voorhies, Chair of the Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice at California College of the Arts, in partnership with Dena Beard, Director of The Lab. All events occur at The Lab and are free and open to the public.

Generous support for Experience It provided by Marv Tseu and Mary Mocas.

Image: Rosa Barba, Solar Flux Recordings, 2017; metal, color glass filters, and engraved plates. Installation view, Palacio de Cristal, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid. Photo: Joaquín Cortés / Román Lores © Rosa Barba