Poetry News

A Film a Day for Sondheim Prize Finalist Stephanie Barber at the Baltimore Museum of Art

By Harriet Staff

HTMLGIANT points us to Stephanie Barber in her studio in a museum. The poet, artist and filmmaker is in residence at the Baltimore Museum of Art (she's been there since June 25 and will continue her performance/installation until August 7), making films at a faster clip than usual and in conjunction with the Sondheim Artscape Prize. The Baltimore Examiner calls Barber's work "possibly the most poetic piece of the exhibition as a whole." More on the Sondheim:

As a condition for the prize, these five artists must live and work in the Maryland-DC-Virginia-Pennsylvania area to compete for $25,000 awarded on July 9th. As always the five finalists are featured at the BMA for a six-week exhibit that continues through Artscape, with a satellite exhibition of semi-finalists at the Maryland Institute College of Art, July 14th thru the 31st.This year’s finalists are Rachel Rothenberg, Mark Parascandola, Louie Palu, Stephanie Barber and Matthew Porterfield.

Adam Robinson of HTMLGIANT writes:

She’s producing one a day. Her setup in the gallery is a sight to behold for the way it deconstructs the museum. When is the last time you’ve seen pictures from a magazine haphazardly tacked to a museum’s wall? Or the last time you watched a video with a soundtrack performed by museum patrons as they pass through?

The show is called Jhana and the Rats of James Olds. I had to look it up. “Jhana” is a meditative practice directed at total concentration. James Olds is considered the founder of modern neuroscience. He made up the pleasure center of the brain, discovering that rodents couldn’t stop stimulating themselves with a lever. It’s the best sort of title, I think, one that directs and broadens the way you think about the piece.

He goes on to quote Bret McCabe, who covered the Sondheim Prize for the City Paper:

Barber’s work as a whole manages to steer you toward considerations of weighty questions you can only answer for yourself. And that’s what makes her Sondheim finalists experiment so generous. It’s a chance to watch and collaborate with an artist preoccupied with creating something, anything, to hold on to in the infinite nothingness of everyday existence. And not a cave-graffiti “I was here” memento mori, more a present tense stake in the here and now, something that calmly trumpets, “I am.”

You can watch some of Stephanie Barber's films at her website. Or, wow! Read her "Lawn Poem" and subsequent theorization of it at Publishing Genius.

Originally Published: July 8th, 2011