Degas

Stephanie Barber | U.S. | 2011 | 2m
color | sound | DV
from Jhana and the Rats of James Olds

It is not only that his names are near anagrams of each other or that his paintings of horses are paintings of motion reorganized to suggest docility and submission, earth toned to make the colored silks of riders pop. There is more about Degas that gives us pleasure. More than Degas I am continually fascinated by what passes for biography—a timeline; a portrait; a solemn or inane anecdote. These all seem equally plausible. Like all the pieces I made for Jhana and the Rats of James Olds this piece was read by a woman who came into the museum unaware that she would help me finish and become a part of my work that day.—Stephanie Barber

Between June 25th and August 7th 2011 Stephanie Barber moved her studio into the Baltimore Museum of Art where she created a new video each day in a central gallery open to museum visitors. The goal of this project, entitled Jhana and the rats of James Olds or 31 days/31 videos, was to create a series of short, poetic videos in the playful and serious footprints of Oulipo games and daily meditations; creating one new video each day. The exhibit was both a constantly changing installation as well as a collaborative performance in which museum visitors were present as spectator and often creative partner. This video was created on the 28th day of this exhibit.

“I am thinking about the emphasis given to product over production, or display over creation. The piece is a video screening and an installation and a performance—a spiritual obeisance, an athletic braggadocio, a consideration of marxist theories of production (with the assembly line so lovingly lit). It is a funny game for me to play, an exercise in concentration, discipline and focus, an extension of my everyday. It is a greedy desire to squeeze a massive amount of work out of myself; a dare; a show I would like to see myself. It is like the backstory before the story, an inversion of the way we usually experience art work. A moving from the inside out. I was thinking how the interiors of museums are really only able to share what is almost the exterior of a piece of art work––and though this colliding of the interior and exterior is fuzzy––a step towards the interior of any art piece might be the making of that piece. I’m interested in the tedious and repetitive qualities of meditation and art work, the difference and similarities in these two practices. The practice and work of these practices––the dispelling of the so-seductive myth of artist as creating through a vague and florid explosion of inspiration––or perhaps interested in romanticizing the effort and challenging technical, logistical, practical elements of creation. The tedious as IT. Or one of the ITs. Like all pieces of art, this project is accordion in its intentions, shrinking and expanding upon use.”—Stephanie Barber

Screens as part of Cabinet of Curiosities.

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