October 17 – 20, 2013 Kadel Willborn What makes Barbara Kasten’s position so exceptionally relevant is that her abstract pictures are based on the real construction of expansive installations in front of the camera. This approach is based on Barbara Kasten’s roots as a sculptor, and the abstract tendencies in painting during the experimental “Light and Space Movement“ in Los Angeles. In the early 1970s, Barbara Kasten already crossed genre-specific borders between sculpture, painting and installation, something that strongly connects her work with the approach of the young generation of artists
In the 1970s, Barbara Kasten began experimenting with photograms and photochemical reactions of cyanotype that she called “The Photogenic Paintings“. The series “Amalgams” (1978-79), as reflected in the title, was produced by the combination of a darkroom exposure of a studio architectural set up and an overlaying photogram of geometric forms made of Plexiglas and directly positioned as “sculptural negatives” on the light-sensitive photo paper. For the “Constructs Series” (1979-1984), Barbara Kasten built expansive abstract installations in her studio using mirrors and found industrial elements that reflected light, coloured by theatrical gels which she photographed with a large-format camera, and later with the 20×24 Polaroid camera.
The presentation for the FRIEZE ART FAIR shows a dialogue between Barbara Kasten’s extremely rare early works and her most recent series, the “Scenes”. For the first time since the late 1980s, we will exhibit large-format pieces from the series “Construct NYC”. Barbara Kasten’s interest in “space as stage” becomes prominently visible in this series. For Barbara Kasten, the production of these works was comparable to an “interdisciplinary performance”; they also prefigured her collaborations with theater companies for stage settings. In the 1980s, the use of colour photography was completely new and originally used for advertising photography. In the series “Construct NYC” the corporeality of the objects and the installation in front of the camera is depicted in confrontation with the actually two-dimensional photography by the extraordinary colour spectrum of the Cibachrome prints. In contrast, the current series, “Scenes”, seems to show the photographed abstract “stage sets” in all nuances from light and shadow. In fact, Barbara Kasten photographed the abstract scenes using colour film, so that the entire light spectrum is included in the fine colour shading. The photographic image becomes a “stage of objects” and connects the reality before the camera with the contingency of optical illusion. The “Scenes” can be regarded as mises-en-scène for the individual acts, as snapshots of the transient parameters of visible reality.