What does subterranean Liverpool sound like? Rosa Barba brings 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, enters and exits the exhibition space, channelling the recorded noise of the traffic and the ventilation towers of the tunnels that carry trains and road vehicles under the River Mersey. The installation concludes in a resonant sculptural conglomeration from which issues a concert of disarticulated, mechanical sounds.
The peristalsis of the noisy cavity of the city’s belly acts as a metaphor for its organic, almost human, functionality. In fact, the idea is 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.
Source: Liverpool Biennial International Festival of Contemporary Art, 2010 Guide