Thursday, July 1st, 2004

Burt Barr

Brent Sikkema Gallery,
530 West 22nd Street
New York NY 10001

June 10 to July 17, 2004

still from Burt Barr The Mile: Running Time 7:25
still from Burt Barr, The Mile: Running Time 7:25

Burt Barr’s work is, in many ways, unique in the field of video art. His work is technically polished and full of wit and reference to film arts of all types. Three recent pieces make up his current show at Brent Sikkema. Two screened pieces are featured in the main gallery. “Roz”, and “The Mile: Running Time 7:25”. “The Fan”, in the back Gallery, is not strictly speaking a video piece, though it does incorporate a video DVD.

“Roz” seems to be a pretty straightforward color video. Roz (Roz Leblanc, who is a beautiful African American performer) stands in the shower and begins to lip Sync to a soundtrack which is Otis Clay singing a soulful version of “The Banks of the Ohio”.

The classic film genres evoked quickly become complicated. Hitchcock bounds to mind at the sight of the tiles in the shower and Roz’s wet hair. The framing of the shot is reminiscent of Warhol “Screen Tests”. Something in the camera’s steadiness and the crisp color recalls Godard. The fact the she is lip syncing (she looks like she’s following instructions) to a man’s very deep voice becomes remarkable. The fact that she’s singing a song about the murder of an unwilling lover becomes outright spooky.

“The Mile: Running Time 7:25” is just that. A woman jogs on a foggy Dune road. The soundtrack is her breathing and footfall. The time is counted down in the corner of the screen.

“The Fan” consists of a shiny oscillating fan on a wooden pedestal, onto which a video of the same fan (in operation) is projected. This produces a shadow-and-film double image. Sometimes the oscillations of the real fan and the projection coincide and sometimes they don’t. In addition the projector light on the real fan creates a spinning reflection on the walls as the fan moves back and forth. This is a really beautiful post-minimalist installation sculpture. The three make quite a provocative stop off on a hot afternoon.