The Incoherent Light

Uta Barth - An Interview

It might seem a bit perverse that a photographer should dedicate a career to what feels like a systematic effort toward destabilising all our assumptions about the visible, the exact thing to which their medium is committed. But such is one - I think quite persuasive - reading of Uta Barth’s work. She seems more concerned with how meaning might be possible for an image at all, the conditions of meaning, rather than what a particular image could itself mean.

“Certain expectations are unfulfilled: expectations of what a photograph normally depicts, of how we are supposed to read the space in the image, of how a picture normally presents itself on the wall (contained and enclosed by a frame that demarcates the area of interest and separates it from all that surrounds it in the room), etc. This kind of questioning and reorientation is the point of entry and discovery, not only in a cognitive way, but in an most visceral, physical and personal sense. Everything is pointing to one’s own activity of looking, to an awareness and sort of hyper-consciousness of visual perception.”

This interview, in which she discusses, among other things her series Field and Ground, dates from way back in 1996, but is none the less a great introduction to the themes Barth has long pursued in her work, so it’s definitely worth your time.

  1. theincoherentlight posted this