Barbara Bloom. Works for the Blind

dec 3, 2015 - feb 27, 2016
via a. stradella 1
Galleria Raffaella Cortese is pleased to present a third solo show by Barbara Bloom. The exhibition will involve two of the three gallery spaces simultaneously, with artworks conceived and realized expressively for the show and its venues.
Absence and its depiction has been, for nearly 40 years, an ongoing theme of exploration in the work of Barbara Bloom. Fingerprints, lipstick traces, watermarks, tea stains, footprints, invisible texts, erasures, cross-outs, Braille, and ellipses... are her favored forms and objects. These flirtations between visibility and invisibility have been frequent presences in her work. Another equally strong aspect of Barbara Bloom’s work has been its relationship to literature. She uses books and texts from favorite authors as carriers of meaning, and often suggests implied narratives. Bloom has often said that she was meant to be a writer, probably a novelist, but somehow ended up standing in the wrong line (and inadvertently “signed up” to be a visual artist).
The Literary and the Absent come together in the exhibition “The Weather.”
In space n. 1 is shown the photographic series Works for the Blind. In each Work for the Blind, a text about the nature of seeing (from Wittgenstein, Barthes, or Dorothy Sayers) appears twice, once in Braille typed over an image, and once—the size of a postage stamp—in five-point type printed white on black. Accompanying each text is a photograph of an illusion—a magician levitating a matchbook, a UFO landing, an egg floating in midair. The pictures and the texts all speak to us of the difficulty of seeing things for what they are, but very few people will be able to make sense of both: sighted people can see the illusionary photograph (though not how the illusion is accomplished), but most will only be able to squint and guess at the too-small text; the blind will be able to read the text (the plexiglass is cut away over the Braille so it can be touched), but unable to see the photograph. The one thing that is clear to all is that everyone is blinded.
In this space is also shown the photographic series Eyes Closed. Bloom has spent a lot of time in movie theaters. She also lived in both America and Europe, so one way or the other, a great many of the films she has seen had words accompanying the image. Those words were always such oddly inadequate approximations of the spoken language, and yet their printed authority gave them a solidity that fleeting speech