Judith Barry

I remember Barry’s work from college; I was shown just a powerpoint of various artists work and Barry’s cube stood out to me because of the scale and emotive values I felt whilst watching it.


Barry is one of the generation of artists who have been
exploring and redefining the narrative, performative, and
theatrical registers of video since the 1980s. Her work
involves a reframing of the exhibition experience itself
through the physical and psychological experience of the
audience: on entering her installations, we are liberated
from the cervical paralysis to which we are subjected by
cinema and other contemplative forms of moving image.
Instead, we actively contribute to the work’s production of
meaning. As Mario Perniola wrote of installation art in his
book The Sex Appeal of the Inorganic
these are spaces that
“sense the visitors, embracing them, touching them, feeling
them up, spreading out toward them, making them enter,
penetrating them, possessing them, drowning them.”
As such, in the labyrinth of mirrors, words, and images
that make up Study for the Mirror and Garden, it is we who,
through our movements, activate the work’s visual and
semantic mechanics. We witness the show but are also
integrated with it, take part in it. In being involved, whether
consciously or unconsciously, in dialogues and situations
that a priori seem distant, we become performers in, or
rather explorers of, this theater of operations.
Barry tells us that a work of art isn’t the only fictional
space in an exhibition; the gallery itself—whether the
white cube or the black box—is one too, and along with
it, we ourselves. The role of audience as performer—it
is a kind of mise en abîme that closes in on itself, a game
of reflections that Barry uses to take a step forward,
not toward the now defunct claim that art equals life,
but toward a claim on the exhibition space itself as a
legitimate theater of the world.
In this sense Barry’s work presents an immediate sensory
experience that is appropriated from the vocabulary of
the entertainment industry: visual impact, technological
seductiveness, surprise, and the psychological stimulation”


Judith Barry is an important contextual artist for me because of her exhibition technique and the effect her work has on her audience. The large films and surrounding aspect is what I am hoping for in my work- it engulfs the viewer to become and feel what they are viewing in a much more immediate and interactive way than what I have practised previously.


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