For me, rhythm has always played an important role in photography. From the rocking of a developing tray, to a staccato exhibition installation, to the careful pacing of a finely edited photobook, rhythm affects so much in this medium.

We asked Uta Barth, an artist that has focused on what we experience in the periphery, moments that pass without particular attention, to comment on the role of rhythm in her photographs. Her work, and how she presents the photographs, reference the subtle unperceived rhythms that live in the subconscious.

Lauren Henkin

"... and to draw a bright white line with light. (Untitled 11.1)," 2011; Inkjet prints in artist frames, 38 x 114.25." © Uta Barth.

… and to draw a bright white line with light. (Untitled 11.1), 2011; Inkjet prints in artist frames, 38 x 114.25.” Image courtesy the artist.

For seventeen years I have made work that consists of sequences in order to talk about the passage of time while looking at things that don’t change much at all. The strategy is about duration, and about vision for vision’s sake. Nothing much changes in these sequences except maybe the light or a slight turn of the camera in order to follow it.

I want to slow the viewer down. I want a slow rhythm from image to image and from work to work when the pieces are installed for exhibition. Slowing down the viewer is hard at a time when people race through exhibitions. But I watch people in my shows, watch many of them move slowly, return to the beginning of a sequence, circle the room once again. Viewers who are not art writers talk about my work as being quiet, being slow and being calm. I think that is only one aspect of the work, but I always find myself smiling when I hear it.

"Sundial (2007.12)," 2007; Face-mounted chromogenic prints, 30 x 114.5." © Uta Barth.

Sundial (2007.12), 2007; Face-mounted chromogenic prints, 30 x 114.5.” Image courtesy the artist.

Click to enlarge thumbnails.

Editor’s Notes:

Uta Barth was born in Berlin in 1958 and currently resides in Los Angeles. She received a B.A. from the University of California, Davis in 1982 and an M.F.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1985. Her work is included in such collections as the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York and Bilbao, Spain; The Tate Modern, London; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, Dallas Museum of Art, Texas, UCLA Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Getty Museum, Los Angeles, and The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, among others. In 2012, Barth was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship. She has taught at the University of California, Riverside since 1990, where she is currently a Professor Emeritus in the Department of Art. She is also currently visiting faculty in the graduate department at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Listen to Uta Barth’s talk at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.

View more of Uta Barth’s work at

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