Burt Barr’s (New York, USA, 1938) video art uses film and television as a means of inspiration. The modern spectator is accustomed to narratives, film and television resources. They are able to recognise and interpret ellipses, transitions, assembly chains, subjective shots, etc. and manage to understand the message the director wants to convey while arriving at their own conclusions. Barr uses the same tools that we are used to to create his videos. Through very intense images and minimalism for the final effect, the American artist has achieved a highly recognisable style.
Barr began working with video in 1984. His early work was shown at film festivals such as Montreal, Toronto, Berlin, Melbourne and San Sebastian and were seen in several American and European television networks. In 1993 the artist begins to make large-scale installations and his work is quickly embraced by galleries and museums.
His pieces, usually done in black and white with a certain predominance of black, use a precise and direct language. As in the language of film, there is a deliberate search for beauty in style which, incidentally, is not without some irony.
This exhibition at Espacio Uno presents three of his most recent pieces. The first, entitled Prison Kiss (2000) represents an impossible encounter between two lovers whose image is framed and separated by a television monitor. The role of the lovers is played by the American sculptor Teresita Fernandez and Malawi-born photographer and resident of New York, Tim Davies. Since his beginnings Barr has worked with personalities from the art world, usually artist friends of his, to recreate his characters. In his pieces Clarissa Dalrymple, Klaus Kertess, Dorothy Lichtenstein, Elizabeth Murray, Jessica Craig-Martin, Nessia Pope, Robert Rauschenberg, Stephen Mueller, Carroll Dunham, Jeff Gauntt and Ester Partegàs have all participated, among others.
Exhibited in the following room is The Long Dissolve (2000), a work that is originates from the polysemous term “dissolve”. The title refers, on one hand, to the cinematic action of the slow disappearance of a scene, and on the other, to the change of state of a solid object into liquid, as happens to the protagonist of the video, an ice-cube. Placed on a plate, the cube dissolves slowly, disappearing in the same way the images do.
Finally August (1999) is a two-screen projection placed vertically where Barr re-creates the well-known scene on the seashore in the film From Here to Eternity. Deborah Kerr and Burt Lancaster, the protagonists of this classic Hollywood film, have been substituted by painters Cecily Brown and Billy Sullivan. The lower monitor shows the image of the couple embracing and rolling around on the sand while the top screen shows the constant image of the ocean. Both views, repeated without interruption, represent the development of an eternal action, thus being Barr’s personal homage to the original film.
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