Rosa Barba

Rosa Barba, Free Post Mersey Tunnels, 2010. Photography by Thierry Bal

Rosa Barba, Free Post Mersey Tunnels, 2010. Photography by Thierry Bal

For Touched, Rosa Barba (b.1972, Sicily, Italy) brought the underground energy of Liverpool to our attention by capturing its visceral sound and conveying it through an intricate sculptural labyrinth of pipes, bringing the inside out and the underneath up, and making audible (and even visible) the inner life of the city’s underworld.

This low-tech industrial landscape, an organic design enriched by a thick patina as if long subjected to the transformations of entropic processes, entered and exited the exhibition space, channeling the recorded noise of the traffic and the ventilation towers of the tunnels that carried trains and road vehicles under the River Mersey. The installation concluded in a resonant sculptural conglomeration from which issued a concert of disarticulated, mechanical sounds.

The peristalsis of the noisy cavity of the city’s belly acted as a metaphor for its organic, almost human, functionality. In fact, the idea was precisely to create an analogy between the body of the city and that of a living entity, taking an internal viewpoint in order to explore its primeval self (its gut feelings as ‘the unexpressed’).

Rosa Barba’s work often unveils (rather than concealing) its mechanical/technical components. This exposure allows us to see behind the world of appearances, manifesting the theatricality somehow implicit in both life and art. By showing the ‘mechanism’ in this way, the artist confers a humanised vulnerability on her constructed imagery. Seduced and intrigued by the apparent simplicity of her low-tech devices, the viewer is captivated and gently forced outside the comfort zone of a single standpoint.

Barba is able to give voice to the lyricism that equally permeates the brutality of the natural and constructed landscapes. She reinterprets Romanticism anew, by placing herself in a position equally distant from a sentimentalist account of affection and from the machismo of the industrialised world.

Rosa Barba at Liverpool Biennial 2010

Free Post Mersey Tunnels
, 2010
Pipes, sound, ventilator
Commissioned by Liverpool Biennial 2010
Exhibited at 52 Renshaw Street

Supported by

Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation
Goethe-Instituit Manchester