Ruth Barker is a Glasgow based artist who works with text and performance. Her practice throws together moments of strange poetry and autobiographical sketches, with echoes of humanity’s oldest stories.
Reflecting theoretical ideas of connectivity and finitude, Barker often recounts her complex prose-poems from memory. Her performances, on first examination, foreground the artist’s own daily experiences and the quotidian narratives of life in contemporary Scotland (shopping lists from Lidl, Hovis bread with cut crusts, plastic bags, stubbled legs and the TV news). However, the work regularly suggests echoes of the larger, longer stories of our own mortality, our sense of self, and our internalisation of ancient myth.
Barker’s performance poems are hypnotic, ritualised, events. They are layered in structure and intensity, and use repetition, mnemonic, and moments of unexpected humour.
Recent projects include performance commissions for CCA (Glasgow) Siobhan Davies Dance (London), Radiophrenia (Glasgow), Resonance FM (London), Camden Arts Centre (London), Sils Projects (Rotterdam), Glasgow International festival of Visual Art; Cartel Gallery, (London) and Machon Hamayim (Tel Aviv). The Artist is represented by the Agency Gallery, London.
For Tall Tales Ruth Barker will present Glass, Blinded To The Room, a new video installation developed following the artist’s Tall Tales residency with the Tavistock & Portman NHS Foundation Trust and time spent with the Freud Museum collection in 2014. For the London leg of Tall Tales,Glass will be installed on Anna Freud’s desk at the Freud Museum London. An iPhone on Anna’s desk will loop a silent video clip. Around the phone, a series of texts overlaid with rough photocopies of the artist’s hands will stand upright on folded, coloured, sheets of A4 paper, composed in small desktop arrangements. Elsewhere on the desk will be detectable objects from the flotsam of the artist’s personal studio desk: fluorescent yellow earrings that were a gift form her husband, and a small photograph of the artist herself as a teenager, and dispersed in amongst Ann’s own belongings.
The work will overlay the artist’s world across the ephemera of another life. Recollections and associations will underscore the presence of Anna Freud as both subject and landmark in a personal and un-analysed creative landscape.
The Foot Exerts a Pressure On The Surface Of The Glass, is Ruth Barker’s Tall Tales performance commission developed specifically for Freud Museum London in its 30th anniversary year. Climbing onto and performing from a table in the Freud family dining room, the artist will fasten an elaborate, layered dress around herself. She will speculate on the nature of memory, improvising questions and asking the audience to silently revisit their dreams, Barker will ask museum staff to select and insert objects from the Freud collection and archive into her performance, onto the fabric of her skirt, whilst encouraging audiences to offer spoken responses to her dreamlike calls. The artist will recite a self-composed script from memory, enveloping the audience with her words which will become dreamlike, immersing those present in the performance. At pre-arranged moments, audiences will offer their own spoken responses to Barker’s calls. The atmosphere will be meditative, shared, intense, and irreverent: a very contemporary take on an ancient oral tradition.
The Foot Exerts a Pressure On The Surface Of The Glass will be performed only once on the afternoon of Saturday 16 April. The performance is intended to be immersive and an intimate experience, therefore capacity will be extremely limited. Until further information is released and if interested in attending please contact email@example.com
Glass, Blinded To The Room will be re-contextualised alongside The Foot Exerts a Pressure On The Surface Of The Glass, to travel with Tall Tales and presented in Rochdale and Glasgow.
For more information about the artist please see Agency Gallery’s website, link here
As part of the 2016 programme Tall Tales will be working with artist writing commissioner and developer Akerman Daly. Akerman Daly will support Ruth Barker in producing and publishing new writings for the Tall Tales tour. See www.akermandaly.com
Image Credits: Top Right – Flash, 2015, Bottom Image: Circle Work, 2015, Photography by Christopher MacInnes, CCA Glasgow