Subject to Constant Change is the most comprehensive solo presentation of works by Italian-German visual artist Rosa Barba to date.
The exhibition is a unique collaboration with Cornerhouse, Manchester that creates a multi-sensory, spatial experience showing the many dimensions of Barba’s practice, including recent film sculptures and a newly commissioned installation.
Barba playfully explores cinema’s material elements: the physical characteristics of film (light, projector, celluloid filmstrip, screen, and sound apparatus) and the structure of cinematic narrative.
Central to the exhibition is a major new multi-platform film installation, Subconscious Society, which considers the end of the industrial age in favour of an age of technology.
Filmed in Manchester and Kent, the new commission is inspired by the history of these places in the late 19th and early 20th centuries: Manchester as the first industrial metropolis and Margate and the Kent coast catering to the related rise of a new leisure culture for the masses. The work depicts a ‘society’ trapped inside a deteriorating interior where the characters explore what happens when objects lose their functions and meanings, whilst being hidden from the crumbling, abandoned world outside: rusting boats, collapsing piers and rollercoasters, and deserted buildings rising from the sea.
Both Turner Contemporary and Cornerhouse will, during similar time periods, each present a distinct part of the new film work, in different forms, both cinematic and sculptural, that respond to the galleries’ unique architectures. At Turner Contemporary, Subconscious Society appears in a dispersed, exploded form, manifesting itself in a series of interrelated filmic sculptures installed throughout the gallery space.
Barba’s work will be presented alongside a number of perspective studies by JMW Turner chosen by the artist, connecting Barba’s exploration of different viewing positions with Turner’s much earlier investigations, made when he was Professor of Perspective at the Royal Academy.
‘In my work I don’t observe reality; I am reinterpreting it in a certain direction by making very personal decisions. I don’t pose critical questions; I am trying to invent a utopia by showing political and social mechanisms set against technical mechanisms which are themselves fragile. The paradox which results from such a tension is used to posit a utopian solution to the problem, a kind of magic which stops time and offers a slowed-down view of otherwise hidden aspects of reality. It offers an alternative reading of the past and also the future’.