this summer we present a screening series at z-bar
Barbara Rosenthal — 33 existential videos
Thursday, 25 June 2009
humorous conceptual poetry-and.performance shorts
Including World Premiere of "Dead Heat"
Barbara Rosenthal's work, on one hand many-fold and widespread over media such as performance, artists' books, photography, installations and video, on the other hand shows continued commitment in her field and consistency over several decades. If you need proof that art can be genuinely political, even if the artist does not calling themself a "political activist", or possibly even moreso because they do not, then look at Rosenthal's work. The collection of her video work over 30 years, a part of which will be presented at Directors Lounge, may possibly be best compared with a witty book of aphorisms. It's altogether irresistible, it's thoughtful, and it's funny, absurd, and at the same time, serious, absolutely. And that's what she wants to be taken for.
You may find Dada, Surrealism or Fluxus in her work, all of which has been overdone with and overused by contemporary artists. However, if you tried to interpret her that way, you would still not come to terms with Barbara's work.
And if we have a closer look, there may be one strategy (of many) we can recognize: Very often, the artist finds ideas, or encounters situations, and takes them just too literally. By these and other techniques, daily life and its absurdities as mirrored in her work become an arena for thoughts revealing truth (yes!), and the negative consequences of abstractedness in live and politics.
Barbara Rosenthal demands close attention and precise reception from her audience, those who like to follow her track of thoughts and perceptions. Her humour never transmits sarcasm; rather, it is as gentle as the jokes we know from those Zen Masters quizzing their favourite pupil. For example, in "How Much Does The Monkey Count?" that is all they do, Barbara and the monkey she ventriloquizes compete by counting numbers. Or like, when the absurdity of reading the listings of societies from the New York City phonebook turns into a critical statement without her adding anything to it. Or, in another example, when the artist is whispering "forbidden" secrets about a sexual attraction, which reveal less of herself but of the repressing side of political (and sexual) correctness.
The screening will almost be a retrospective as it shows a range of the artist's earliest (nicely digitally re-mastered) and most recent work. Having said all that, we are happy that Barbara Rosenthal is coming to Berlin exclusively for this screening. And she will be available to the audience, for questions and answers, or at least more thought-nourishing quizzes.
(Klaus W. Eisenlohr)
List of work showing, PDF
German Press Release, PDF
English Press Release, PDF