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Rosa Barba, installation view at CCA, Kitakyushu, 2019. Photo: Rosa Barba. Courtesy of the Calder Foundation.
Rosa Barba, installation view at CCA, Kitakyushu, 2019. Photo: Rosa Barba. Courtesy of the Calder Foundation.

Rosa Barba Wins $50,000 Calder Prize

The Calder Foundation has awarded its biennial Calder Prize to Berlin-based artist Rosa Barba. In addition to receiving $50,000, Barba will have one of her works placed in a major public collection. She is the eighth artist to receive the Calder Prize. Previous laureates include Tara Donovan, Rachel Harrison, Jill Magid, Haroon Mirza, and Tomás Saraceno.

Born in Agrigento, Italy, in 1972, Barba often merges film, sculpture, installation, live performance, sound, and text to create fully immersive works. Much of her output takes the form of films, experimental documentaries, and fictional narratives that address various topics, including the natural landscape and man-made interventions in the environment, the historical record and personal memory, and the materiality of film itself.

“If conventional cinema aims for absorption and expanded cinema aims for estrangement, Barba rejects both, staging a confrontation between these two ways of approaching the film experience: She couples a phenomenological encounter with the apparatus and a commitment to film as a technology of the virtual, one able to serve as a portal to other places and other times,” Erika Balsom wrote in the September 2017 issue of Artforum.

In 2017, the foundation commissioned Barba to produce a cinematic “portrait” of one of Calder’s works for an ongoing series of films made by contemporary artists, curated by Vic Brooks. After visiting Calder’s studio in Roxbury, Connecticut, Barba homed in on an unpainted mobile from 1968 installed above one of Calder’s workstations and created the short film Enigmatic Whisper. Shot on 16mm film and accompanied by an original score, it premiered at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

Barba has had numerous solo exhibitions, including at the CCA Kitakyushu, Japan (2019); the Kunsthalle Bremen, Germany (2018); the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (2017); Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan (2017); and Secession, Vienna (2017). She has also participated in the Thirty-Second São Paulo Bienal (2016); the Fifty-Third and Fifty-Sixth Venice Biennales (2009 and 2015); and the Eighth Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art (2014); among other international exhibitions.