Judith Barry

Works * CV * PDF portfolio

Nascent States

Judith Barry (1954, USA), studied at the University of California, Berkeley, and received a MA in Communication Arts, Computer Graphics, from the New York Institute of Technology in 1986. She trained in architecture, art, literature, film theory and computer graphics and her work encompasses a number of disciplines including performance, installation, film and video, sculpture, photography, and new media.

Barry has exhibited in many international contexts, including at Documenta XIII, Sharjah Biennial 10, Cairo Biennale 2001, Venice Biennale of Architecture 2000, Sao Paulo Biennale 1994, Nagoya Biennale 1993, Carnegie International 1992, Whitney Biennale 1987. In 2000, Barry won the Frederick Kiesler Prize for Architecture and the Arts and was awarded Best Pavilion at the Cairo Biennale. A major survey of her work was mounted at DA2 Salamanca, Spain, 2008 and Berardo Museum, Lisbon, 2010.

In London, Barry’s solo exhibition Public Fantasy at the ICA in 1991 was curated by Iwona Blazwick, and was accompanied by a publication of a collection of the artist’s essays. Barry was also represented in Performing Bodies at Tate Modern, 2000, and A Short History of Performance at Whitechapel Gallery, 2006.

Her work is represented in the collections of MoMA, Whitney Museum, DIA Foundation, Generali Foundation, Mumok, Centre Pompidou, La Caixa, MACBA, FRAC Lorraine, Goetz Collection, among many others.

‘…Cairo stories’ is a series of ‘as-told-to’ recorded stories, based on personal interviews. Initiated in 2003 at the beginning of the Iraq War, the project explores the many different ways that Cairene women negotiate the ideological, cultural and economic conditions that are specific to Cairo. Drawing on hundreds of hours of recorded interviews, Barry filmed actors recounting extracts of individual narratives.


Judith Barry, …Cairo stories, 2011
installation view, Sharjah Biennial

‘For when all that was read was… so as not to be unknown’ is a guidebook to the ‘Brain’ section at dOCUMENTA (13). Remapping the exhibitions wide ranging content, associative histories and labyrinthine nature with its own unique paper architecture. Contained yet expansive, exhibition materials are presented in a non-hierarchal, non-linear array, as if to situate its contents in an endless space suspended in time. This work derives from an investigation into the historical development of the book as a form — from early seals and emblems, to the codex as a contemporary form of storing knowledge.


Judith Barry, For when all that was read was… so as not to be unknown, 2012
print, codex, polyhedron book, offset print, 60×80cm (poster), 13x13x13cm (polyhedron)
installation view, dOCUMENTA(13)

‘study for mirror and garden. redux' uses video and special effects along with architectural mirroring to evoke the secret gardens, hidden meanings, and picaresque narratives of the ‘converso’ tradition in Spanish literature and culture, which allowed banished cultures to survive by hiding in plain sight. At first the story seems to turn on mistaken identities, but as time ruptures & slips and characters morph into cultural archetypes, it becomes an investigation of the origins of our desire for the irrational to erupt into modern narrative space.


Judith Barry, study for the mirror and garden. redux, 2007
installation, 2-channel video sound projection with mirrors, dimensions variable

‘Voice off’ consists of a room divided into two halves; the wall separating the room is the projection area. The videos on either side of the shared wall explore what the voice is in terms of possession and loss, presenting the viewer with two metaphoric narratives that unfold simultaneously. On one side a dream-like sequence enacts the personal, intimate and interior encounters that one has with the voice. On the other side, a man trying to work grows increasingly distracted as he tries to locate the source of the sounds he hears.


Judith Barry, Voice off, 1999
installation, 2 channel video projection, sound

‘speedflesh’ is an interactive 360º surround theatre allows the viewer to experience the last 5 minutes in the lives of 5 characters who are somewhere along the spectrum between human and prosthetic. Three-dimensional effects place the viewer in the centre of the space such that the point of view shot becomes the most potent and only locating device - similar to the space of video games. This project explores how an immersive space might flatten any narrative effect such as to engage with the work, the viewer must inhabit the centre of this space as an all–seeing eye.


Judith Barry, speedflesh, 1998
installation, 4 channel interactive video-sound projection, dimensions variable

In ‘the work of the forest’, the 19th century notion of ‘interiority’, described by Marcel Proust, is contrasted with the architectural style most associated with it, Art Nouveau. I used Proust’s ‘whirling room’ to stage conflicting histories of African art, the Belgian Congo and Art Nouveau. Three transparent screens as a continuous panorama allow for multiple points of view and access; underscoring the different relationships that the viewer can have with this material.


Judith Barry, the work of the forest, 1992
installation, 3 channel video-sound projection panorama with Art Nouveau screens

‘Adam’s Wish’ explores tromp l’oeil effects as it questions why, within the lexicon of corporate architecture, there is not an overt and legible corporate iconography visibly in these structures. It uses the history of tromp l’oeil to examine spatial disintegration, particularly as public space has become increasingly privatized. Designed as a projection onto an oculus, the piece explores a worker’s ‘fall from grace’ and his eventual retreat back into corporate public space.


Judith Barry, Adam’s Wish, 1988
installation, site-specific video instllation
installation view showing the projection into the World Financial Center oculus, New York City

Using a variety of computer effects, including 3-D modelling techniques, this floor projection places you viscerally within post-perspectival representational space. Here information technologies and the alienation they can produce are contrasted with collage and motion graphic techniques to underscore the contradictions inherent in these effects; they produce sensations which literally take you places that only your eye can go - leaving your body behind.


Judith Barry, maelstrom: max laughs, 1988
installation, video projection, sound

‘First and Third’ is a series of nine stories by ‘other’ Americans. It reflects the contradictions inherent in the immigrant experience of the American Dream. This work premiered at the Whitney Museum Biennal, New York, where the narratives of the ‘talking heads’ took on a particular significance in the context of an institution which, at that time parlayed a con- temporary American cultural experience as the language of a white male power structure.


Judith Barry, First and Third, 1987
video, video projection

Light and fog are projected in a room in which two identical disks are suspended such that the viewer stands between them. Even though you can see precisely how the piece works, you are still subject to retinal effects on your vision. As you leave the room, thinking you will regain control of your vision, you do not, you see red. The work demonstrates two of the many ways you can not trust what you see. In a sense you become a projector.


Judith Barry, model for stage and screen, 1987
installation, light and fog, room with ante-chamber

A room, suggestive of many other spaces – a waiting room, a train station and S+M den - hid 4000 lbs of sand in the ceiling. While I made action sculptures out of wire mesh, fragmented narratives of women’s lives projected on 3 screens behind me. A mellifluous voice cohered these fragments into a story. Finally, I lay in the hammock and as buckets of sand poured over me, suddenly the curtain of sand in the ceiling was released, covering me. When it finished, the performance was over. The piece stayed on view as an installation.


Judith Barry, pastpresentfuturetense…ppft, 1977
performance, 3 slide projections, 2 sound tracks, 4000 pounds of silica sand, wire mesh, hooks