With a practice that incorporates writing, video, drawing, sculpture and performance, Anna Barham’s work interrogates language’s endless and unruly potential through the bodily and technological operations that act upon it.
Earlier projects have particularly concentrated on the structural dimensions of anagrams, with drawings and animations performing texts written from the multitudinous possible permutations of a collection of letters. Modular tangram units or platforms mirror the animations and provide space for human actions with Barham using the space to activate texts, often accompanied by others, as demonstrated in the work, Slick Flection (2009-12).
Some of Barham’s recent work has drawn on elements from Plato’s Cratylus; a Socratic dialogue that investigates the ‘correctness of names’ asking if writing is really the imitation of reality in letters and syllables. Liquid Consonant (2012), first screened by Arcade at Frieze in 2012, focuses on the pronunciation of the Greek letter rho (P,p), prominent in words describing motion: current, flow, whirling… The work depicts a digitally animated mouth tracing the rhythmic permutations of this sound, sensuously reproduced through computerised lips.
Barham’s latest work, Double Screen (not quite tonight jellylike), extends this investigation into the deconstructed elements of the human voice. A text repeatedly reproduced and re-interpreted by speech software becomes the voice over for a 2-channel video work that explores the productive slippage between performance and meaning.
Anna Barham (born 1974, UK) lives and works in London. She studied Philosophy and Maths at Cambridge University (1992 – 1995) before going on to study Fine Art at the Slade (1997 – 2001). Select recent solo exhibitions include: Suppose I call a man a horse or a horse a man, Site Gallery, Sheffield (2013); a solo presentation with Arcade at Frieze London (2012) and White City and an Art on the Underground Commission for White City Station, London (2012). Select group exhibitions include: Convention T, Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridge (upcoming, 2014); Platform: In the making, Site Gallery, Sheffield (2013); Words To Be Spoken Aloud, Turner Contemporary, Margate (2013) and Revolver, part II, Matt’s Gallery, London (2012). Barham’s practise also manifests in live works, performances and screenings. Most recently: Anna Barham, Video Space, MKG, Milton Keynes (2013); Slick Flection 2012 with Carrie Topley, as part of Words to be spoken aloud (2013); Volume II (extract), as part of Provisional Information, Camberwell Space, London (2013) and Volume II (extract), at the book launch for Reading / Feeling, Site Gallery, Sheffield (2013).
Anna Barham is represented by Arcade, London and Galerie Nordenhake, Stockholm. Her solo show, Not quite tonight jellylike, is the current exhibition at Arcade, London until 9 November 2013. This year Barham has been awarded the Arts Council England GfA Award and been given residencies at Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridge and Site Gallery, Sheffield.