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dwarfs the sea Film
ship film
flower, the boy, the librarian
Curated by: Adam Hyman

6712 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
April 18th, 2010 7:30 PM - 10:00 PM

Los Angeles Filmforum
mixed-media, video-art, conceptual, surrealism
$10 general, $6 students/seniors, free for Filmforum members


Laden and light, with ideas and technology and analogy and analogue essences, whimsical manipulations of time and text, suffused with the emotional heft needed for these heart-wrenching, media mad times, the works of Stephanie Barber are among the most unique and delightful being produced these days.  We’ve lucky to have her in Los Angeles for a night of a West Coast jaunt from Baltimore.  Don’t miss this rare opportunity to explore these films and converse with the artist about them… or let them play in your dreams for the weeks to follow.

“Stephanie Barber . . . has one of the most original visions to emerge recently from the diverse experimental film scene. Deceptively simple at first, her work is unique in the way it alters and even suspends time.” – The Chicago Reader

“[Stephanie Barber’s films] can feel like highly formal exercises in film language made by a profoundly restless mind, playing image and sound off each other and forcing you to locate implied meanings on your own. Others are both silly and oddly engaging, involving puppets mundanely discussing pressing metaphysical concerns. And others calmly and almost imperceptibly sweep you up in the genuine breadth of their emotional wake.” - Bret McCabe at The Baltimore City Paper



flower, the boy, the librarian (1996, 16mm, 6 min.)

for those who find listing and repetition romantic.

a near perfect structure. three acts, an auditory red herring and classic love story.

they invented machines (1997 16mm 7 min)

This film is thinking about colonialism, entertainment and love. the images are taken mostly on disneyworld rides where one is shown facsimiles of people from far away lands. The sound track a little more than half way through ceases its cricketing and, against impressionistic waterfalls, mentions love ("they have love here") which must then be thought of in the context of this same wonder, possession and amusement. the film ends with a series of flights.

shipfilm (1998, 16mm, 3 min.)

this is probably the most heartbreaking film i have made, the pacing is romantic and simple, haiku-esque pauses and inclusions, with the words contrasting this poetry with their factual, disinterested narration. and that narration is a simple statement of failure, one which lies, not in any action, but in the pre-thought to that action, the hope or faith one holds in oneself, one's knowledge or abilities.

metronome (1997, 16mm, 8 min.)

metronome is both the most straightforward, as well as the most difficult of my films. it is very dear to my heart. the radio play soundtrack is off-set by the intractable images "spaces." the former seems to balance precariously between kitsch and true heartrending emotion and the latter is referencing the asceticism of seventies minimalism (in experimental film) with the impenetrable intellectualism becoming increasingly moving as the film progresses. the marriage of these two elements is an odd tension, the tale of the play, the threat of limb extraction, asks the necessity of "whole and what the elements are which compose complete."

letters, notes (1997, 16mm, 6 min.)

This film brings together found photographs and letters to create new mini narratives. death and disease are set blithely beside, and given equal importance as, the sighting of a skunk or love sick scribblings.

"letters, notes was neither too long nor too knowing and produced the most profound occasion of un remembrance on my part. Too busy trying to figure out what it all meant, I neglected to note down the words passing across the screen or what was beneath them, but I can tell you I was strangely moved, and I desire to see it once more just so I can again become so wrapped up that I forget to remember." --jeff lambert, senses of cinema

little present (for my friend columbus the explorer) (1999, 16mm, 3 min.)

While referencing the explorer christopher columbus the film is actually a gift for my friend, the performance artist, theresa columbus.  The short imagistic film is suggesting, or questioning, ever so gently the effects-- both positive and negative--that exploring has on that which is being             explored.  our most well known columbus, now so often vilified, here stands in for a more psychological and artistic exploration and the fall out that can occur from that sort of expansionism as well.  like many of my films the piece itself works almost separately from the implications and sidelong glances of the title and the way it interacts with the, almost passive, images and often quite dominant soundtracks.

total power, dead dead dead (2005, 16mm, 3 min)

a love letter to the charm of two dimensional images and a struggle for attention. confusion over the inequity of the mortality of images and that of humans. (slightest indictment). the spectacle awaits our adoration, gives a tender, false intimation of collusion.

catalog (2005, 16 mm, 11 min.)

catalog is a composition of stillness—inversion of the spectacle-–actors are posed

recreating various photographs in surroundings unfrozen. The sound track is a labile and dense tale of spaces, royalty and a photograph more mutable than an image should be.


dwarfs the sea (2007, dv, 7 min)

small biographies and musing generalizations--men’s relations to each other and their lives. there is hope and loneliness, companionship and isolation and the simplest of filmic elements to contrast the complexity of human emotions. the delicacy of the formalist writing moves the listener from intimacy to universalism and back again, swaying gently to and fro like the rocking of a ship.

“Single photographs get a different kind of life in Stephanie Barber’s Dwarfs the Sea, where still images of supposedly deceased sailors are presented to the camera, being placed one atop of another while a vaguely computerized female voice describes these men in precise but generalized details—he was a joker, they had a great friendship, I found him without empathy, etc.  Melville and Conrad would have loved Barber’s paean to the richness of character but supremely allegorical aspect of sailor personalities, and similarly Ford would see some of his Stagecoach in how a confined vehicle placed in the wilderness brings out the types of society, at once specific and universal.  A touching, human idea, presented just as it should be: simply.” --Daniel Kasman for 'The Auteurs'

the visit and the play (2008, mini dv, 8 min)

First the ladies visit, then go to watch a play. On a television, in a snow garden.  In many ways the play references the cadence of the ladies conversation—the tedious animosity and lack of attentive or appropriate response. In the end, all I want to think about lately is the art of conversation. The various directions this art takes.


the inversion, transcription, evening track and attractor (2008, mini dv, 13 min)

how looking at what has become the skeletons of photographs is a visual lecture on aesthetic pleasure or emotion. and how being, almost entirely denied of this pleasure, or having the pleasure merely suggested induces a viewer to uminate on the act of viewing and that of wanting to view. and maybe it is evolution which causes this anxiety and art form. A series of collages recreating the photographs of well known artists (uta barth, kohei yoshiyuki, candida hofer, deborah willis) and a very slight suggestion of the actual photographs. The soundtrack is composed of approximately 25 statements on photography.--sb


"The images in Barber's new video the inversion, transcription, evening track and attractor are a series of collages Barber has created, they are entirely white--white on white exquisite cut-outs of exact replications of well known photographs.  These are painstakingly constructed and delightful and she superimposes them ever ever so slightly over the original images.  The entirety is an unbelievably transcendent, ruminative and spellbinding experience referencing high modernism, the history of photography and questions of ownership in the construction of the theories on this artform.  I left feeling as though my eyes and ears had been scrubbed clean and replaced with new suggestive models.  As with all of Barber's soundtracks the text is formally considered and plays intelligently between a cold distant consideration of ideas and an often devastating emotionalism sneakily brought in and in many ways serving as counterpoint to the asceticism of the images.  An astounding and important video from an artist most well known for her film work, it is gratifying to see that she has maintained the high level of delicacy in this (new to her) video medium."--Henry Trial, 2008


to the horse dream of arms (2010, DV, 5 min)

A brief study in the ways of time travel.  the ways ideas and assumptions travel through time, the way humans travel through time and the way sound is created by traveling through time.  onward ho!


to the horse dream of arms was originally created for the 2010 screening at Rotterdam International Film Festival entitled THE COST OF LIVING (Break Glass Upon Reflection)–curated by Mark McElhatten  for the BREAK EVEN STORE.


Stephanie Barber is a multi media artist who creates meticulously crafted, odd and imaginative writing, films and videos as well as performance pieces which incorporate music, literature and video.  She has had numerous screenings of her film and video work including solo shows at MoMA, NY, Anthology Film Archives, San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center, Chicago Filmmakers, Bio Penrepo Prague, Close-Up Video, London and The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.  Her films and videos have also been included in screenings at The New York Film Festival, Film Festival Rotterdam, The Cinematheque Francaise, The London International Film Festival, The Whitney Museum of American Art, Proekt Fabrika and the State Contemporary Art Centre (both in Moscow), The San Francisco Museum of Contemporary Art and The Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art among others. 

Her performances have been featured at the Baltimore Museum of Art, The Milwaukee Museum of Art, The Haggerty Museum of Art and galleries and artspaces around the world.  Her most recent video/performance piece, in the jungle, premiered in May 2009 at The Stone, NYC, and has recently screened at Los Solos in Baltimore in Chicago for the closing night of the Chicago Underground Film Festival and will screen at the San Francisco Cinematheque and DC Center for the Arts in the spring of 2010.

Her book poems was published in 2006 by Bronze Skull Press and her recent book these here separated to see how they standing alone or the soundtrack to six films by stephanie barber was published in May 2008 by Publishing Genius Press.  Included in this book is her experimental essay the inversion, transcription, evening track and attractor (the soundtrack for the video of the same name) which was recently for a Pushcart Prize. She currently lives in Baltimore, MD USA.

Parking is now easiest at the Hollywood & Highland complex. Bring your ticket for validation. Parking is $2 for 4 hours with validation. Enter that complex on Highland or Hollywood. The theater is 1.5 blocks east.