rosa barba at act’s lecture series – oct 19, 2015

Bending to Earth, 2015. 35-mm film, color, optical sound, 15 min. Film still copyright Rosa Barba

For those of you who missed Maryam Jafri’s talk on October 5, we’ll be posting a video of it soon – so stay tuned – but that’s no excuse to miss our upcoming round tables! You can’t talk to a YouTube video, and if you do, it won’t talk back, and if it does, then we’re missing out! The ACT program is based on, and stands by, the influx of ideas, disciplines and the abundance of discussions, and your presence is both valuable for us and an exciting opportunity to meet and talk to established, experimental artists, practitioners and scholars in an informal setting.

After a dynamic discussion with Maryam Jafri, MIT’s program in Art, Culture and Technology is happy to announce our next guest, Berlin-based Italian visual artist Rosa Barba, who will be joining us on October 19 to present her work. A discussion, moderated by second year ACT graduate student Björn Sparrman, with responses from ACT alumnus Haseeb Ahmed and Henriette Huldisch from the MIT List Visual Arts Center, will follow Barba’s talk.


Bending to Earth, 2015. 35-mm film, color, optical sound, 15 min. Film still copyright Rosa Barba.

Barba’s distinctive use of film as both a sculptural and an information-carrying immaterial medium expands the celluloid strip beyond its traditional understandings, uses and expectations. Her works pick apart both the physical operational apparatus of film, and the materiality of the cinematic form. These focuses are both played out self-referentially within an extended, altered, and anachronistic tradition of projecting films.

The Hidden Conference, 2010-2015. 35-mm film, color, optical sound, installation view at Palazzo Cusani, Milan, 2015. Photo by Agostino Osio.

The Hidden Conference, 2010-2015. 35-mm film, color, optical sound, installation view at Palazzo Cusani, Milan, 2015. Photo by Agostino Osio.

Her projectors are made visible, fully revealed, and have been altered in various ways that lay bare the material and kinetic ontology of the medium. The viewers are able to see the celluloid snake through space, its plasticity revealed. Her activity in this manner fundamentally points to the nature of time whether she is playing with the celluloid, or shooting images of landscapes. She suggests in her work Time as Perspective that “One might assert that time is not real / and ask whether it is a function of time.”

The expanse of land is perhaps an extreme rhetorical stand-in for all space. The ‘moment of time’ as pointed to by the projected image is, of course, preceded and followed, in the case of film by frames, which themselves only flow by the graces of the projector and projectionist herself. The projectionist may at a moment alter time and thereby the projected landscape in kind. 


Boundaries of Consumption, 2012. Installation view at Kunsthaus Zurich, 2012. Photo by Jenny Ekholm.

There, of course, exists in all these works, especially with the central consideration of time, the fetishized celluloid and projector. She is tied to a pedagogic device by which she explores these deeper ideas.

The works in her upcoming exhibition at the List particularly consider deep geologic time. Consequently, her investigations with time and film show her shared interest in space, or specifically expansive land, the desert or sea.


Björn Sparrman received his BFA from Calvin College in 2012. He worked at the Walker Art Center as assistant and exhibition-tender for artist Fritz Haeg’s At Home In the City residency, and more recently at Guldagergaard: International Ceramic Research Center, Skælskør, Denmark. As recipient of the ArtPrize 2014 Pitchnight grant, he exhibited his large public work, The Grand River Checkpoint Project, during the citywide festival in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is currently a masters candidate at the MIT Program in Art Culture and Technology.

Haseeb Ahmed

Haseeb Ahmed is a research-based artist. Originally from the US, he now lives and works in Brussels and Zurich. He produces objects, site-specific installations, and writes for various publications. He is a founding member of the group Platypus Affiliates Society (2006) that publishes the Platypus Review monthly on the fragments of the radical Left.


Fish Bone Chapel, 2013. Image courtesy Haseeb Ahmed.

Often working collaboratively, Haseeb integrates methodologies from the hard sciences into his art production. Currently Haseeb works with the Size Matters research group at the Zurich University of the Arts on the topics of models, scale, and their collusion in wind tunnels.



Shamshir+Windtunnel=Progress (2008-09). MIT, Cambridge, MA. Images courtesy Haseeb Ahmed.

He takes up at this research at the Von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics in Brussels and is pursuing a PhD in practice-based arts in at the University of Antwerp and Sint Lucas-Antwerpen School of Art and Design. Haseeb received his Masters from MIT and has been a resident at the Jan van Eyck Academie (NL), Skowhegan (US), and Recollets (FR). His work has been exhibited internationally.


Henriette Huldisch is curator at the MIT List Visual Arts Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts and recently organized Eva Koťátková: Out of Sight and the sound and performance exhibition Open Tunings there. Until May 2014, she worked at Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum for Contemporary Art – Berlin, where she curated shows such as Harun Farocki: Serious Games (2014/15), Body Pressure: Sculpture since the 1960s (2013), and Anthony McCall: Five Minutes of Pure Sculpture (2012), among others. From 2010-2014, Huldisch served as Visiting Curator at Cornerhouse, Manchester, and organized solo exhibitions with Rosa Barba and Stanya Kahn. From 2004-2008, she was assistant curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and curated or co-curated shows such as the 2008 Whitney Biennial; Small: The Object in Film, Video, and Slide Installation; Full House: Views of Whitney’s Collection at 75; and more. Among her publications is the 2008 Biennial Exhibition catalogue (with Shamim M. Momin) and numerous contributions to exhibition catalogues and publications such as Artforum. In the fall of 2009 she was a guest professor at the Malmö Art Academy, Sweden.

Huldisch is the curator of Rosa Barba’s “The Color Out Of Space” will be showing at the MIT List October 23, 2015 to January 3, 2016 

The talk will take place on Monday, October 19 at 7:00pm – 9:00pm at the ACT Cube, E15-001. 

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