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Rosa Barba / Outwardly from Earth’s Center

2008-02-03 to 2008-04-27

The short film Outwardly from Earth’s Center by the German-Italian filmmaker and artist, Rosa Barba, may be described as a documentary fantasy, a poetic depiction of a fictitious course of events partly based in reality. The venue is the Swedish island of Gotska Sandön, which, de facto, moves towards the north, away from Gotland, at the speed of a metre a year. The film depicts the persevering islanders’ arduous attempts to stop the drifting of their island.

Pregnant with ideas, the narrative covers a multitude of perspectives on the fate of the island. Experts comment: an archaeologist, an architect charged with saving the island, an archivist who, in an innocuously perverse manner, gloat over the crimes committed on the island through history, a politician who talks about the islanders in the third person, a lighthouse-keeper who worries that the island will change course and start drifting towards Russia, while the islanders, using various methods, and depicted in almost surreal sequences, try to anchor their island to stop its drifting.

Rosa Barba’s cinematic language is immediate and multilayered at the same time. It is difficult to define the time in which the film takes place – is it the present or the past? The film’s time axes are equally elusive: the voices of the interviewees are not always synchronised with the image sequences. Why this dissolution of time and space? Is the film, as the island, drifting away while we are watching it? Recurring sequences shot from an aeroplane remind us of the island’s exposed geographic location. Will the people be able to save it?

In addition to a concern with themes and narrative, Rosa Barba displays a both sensuous and conceptual interest in the cinematographic medium and its many forms of expression – an interest in time and space, montage and collage, staged and real events, synchronous and non-synchronous, documentary codes in collision with fiction and fantasy. The artist also explores the architecture of the film medium – the black cube of the theatre, the materiality of the celluloid, various cinematographic methods and ways of seeing - in both films and installations.

Outwardly from Earth’s Center was shot on 16mm film and transferred to video. The work was produced in 2007 during the artist’s stay at Gotland, invited by BAC, Baltic Art Center in Visby, through their production-in-residency program.