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Judith Barry

Voice off

Friday, August 24, 2012 to Sunday, January 13, 2013

Gift of  Dieter and Gertraud Bogner 

With Voice off (1999), mumok presented a video installation by American artist Judith Barry, donated to the museum 2011 by the Austrian collectors Dieter and Gertraud Bogner.  

Judith Barry: Voice off (1999)

Voice off is a double projection onto both sides of a wall that separates a space into two identical rooms: the projections form the wall dividing the space. Visitors are invited to move from one side to the other through a barely discernible curtain hidden in the projection screens. Each of the two video projections presents a different experience of how the voice might become visible, exploring how ideas intrinsic to the question of the nature of the voice in terms of possession and loss might be represented. 

In one projection, a group of characters finds themselves in a suspended setting within seemingly endless space filled with patches of fog or mist. In this dream-like environment, they demonstrate some of the personal, intimate, and interior encounters that can be had with the voice - with one’s own voice and with other voices. These include personal and social experiences, overheard bits of speech, interior monologues, and snippets from songs. These are the kinds of experiences with the voice that catch you as you move through daily life, that both possess you and which you may try to resist, or which you may surrender to. 

On the other side of the wall, a man in an office tries to work, but is increasingly disturbed by the voices and sounds that penetrate his space. Becoming more and more desperate, he tries to discover the source of the voices, demonstrating how involuntarily hearing can allow the voice to possess us or haunt us. At this point in the narrative the projections appear to coalesce, only to separate once again, as another story takes over. 

In her work Judith Barry often negotiates the interactions between media and architecture, and questions how the relationships between individuals in a variety of social spaces might be represented. In Voice off, these questions are linked through gender issues, film theory, and perceptual processes. In 2000, the artist was awarded the Austrian Friedrich Kiesler Prize for Architecture and Art for her interdisciplinary work. 

Judith Barry, was born in Columbus, Ohio in 1954 and lives in New York. She studied at the University of California, Berkeley and the New York Institute of Technology. Since her solo show in the Whitney Museum in 1982, she has participated in numerous solo and group shows, including Documenta 13 in 2012.