Burt Barr
August 1, 2008, 3:22 am
Filed under: Art, Installation, Photography, Video

Burt Barr
June 12th – July 25th, 2008
Sikkema Jenkins & Co.
530 W. 22nd Street New York, NY

“For this exhibition Burt Barr returns to his guiding premise, “that black & white are the only two colors I’ll ever need.” A believer of the single take – no matter its length – Barr’s work is the antithesis of most modern day film and video. All works were shot by Barr and mastered by his longtime editor, Steve Hamilton. The videos are all projected directly on the wall and looped for continual viewing. Using bare necessities to convey movement they hang much as paintings or, more appropriately, black and white photographs (press release).”

Though all of the pieces were intriguing, I gravitated towards ‘Donkey and Lightning,’ a two video installation piece in the back of the gallery. One wall displayed an ambiguous, darkened image of a donkey, which occasionally becomes illuminated. The opposing wall displayed a blank night sky, with occasional flashes of lightning. When the lightning flashed, the donkey image became illuminated.

It takes a few minutes to figure out what is going on in this piece. A viewer cannot see both videos at once due to the setup of the room. Looking at the image of the donkey, one would have to wait for it to become illuminated to discern what it is. Looking at the donkey while it is illuminated, one would not be able to see the lightning flash on the wall behind them. Only by watching the videos separately can one determine the relationship between the two. In this way, two simple videos, when combined, become synchronized in an installation that tests one’s awareness.


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