Magazine article Artforum International

Judith Barry: Gallery Xavier Hufkens

Magazine article Artforum International

Judith Barry: Gallery Xavier Hufkens

Article excerpt

"No one talks about those things beyond . . . beyond speech/those things beyond thinking and reason,/beyond writing and language." These lines from a poem written by Judith Barry encapsulate her recent exhibition. In previous installations, Barry gave the spectator a pivotal role in determining the various parameters of the exhibition space. Whether Barry is investigating issues related to architecture, cinema, or gender politics, the most important element in her work is often space itself, which takes on both a visual and a verbal dimension: How, the work asks, does the viewer navigate conflicting areas of signification?

This exhibition proposed a shift from the self-contained world of the installation to a group of five unique yet interrelated sculptures. The overall title of the show, "Au bout des levres" (On the tip of the tongue), refers to the way in which Barry uses language and narrative as a means of representing the gap between what is spoken and what is left unsaid. When we say something is on the tip of our tongue, it has not yet, of course, been transformed from thought into speech, and these sculptures, each of which embodies some form of movement, attempted to represent the intermediate stages of language. For Barry, however, the relationship between language and the visual is one that is doomed to remain incomplete: the former can never fully represent the latter.

In the center of the gallery was an oblong object consisting of coils of red hair made from plastic thread. This assemblage spun slowly in half-turns. Looking into its core, one could see a video image of a nymphlike woman trapped in a maelstrom of hair. At various points the woman seemed to emerge from the hair, as her distance from the spectator constantly shifted. The video space was a doubling of the space of the sculpture itself, creating a kind of endless mise en abime. …

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