Barbara Kasten (1989-11-10)

Barbara Kasten
Practice: Photography
Date of Lecture: 1989-11-10

Kasten_Barbara_w01Architectural Site 8, December 21, 1986 (1986) © Barbara Kasten

Barbara Kasten’s photographic output embodies approaches to the medium that have been significantly inspired by postmodern thought. Her early cameraless photography from the 1970s embraced abstraction and played analytical compositions off of the medium’s spontaneity and tendency toward arbitrary effects. In the 1980s, she turned toward referential works, investigating the ways in which space could be manipulated and tangible sites rendered spatially unfamiliar. Her working methods involved elaborate lighting systems and strategically placed mirrors, and occasionally she included documentation of her process along with her finished work. Her large-scale cibachromes of architectural sites commented upon the structural hierarchies embedded within the edifices she depicted, and her selected buildings, such as the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, tended to reflect the rise of postmodernist architecture and thematise its inherent aspirations. In the early 1990s, she began to investigate the Pueblo domiciles and shrines of the Puye Cliffs, New Mexico which resulted in the body of work entitled Cliff Dwellings. Her recent work focuses on the residual traces of ancient cultures and her archaeological investigations have included Pre-Colombian temples in Mexico and Greek goddess figurines.

Kasten has received a Fulbright Hays Fellowship (1972) and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship (1977). She has had solo shows at the International Center for Photography, New York (1989), Tinglado Dos Tarragona, Spain (1992) and the Contemporary Arts Center of Vilnius, Lithuania (1995). Her work has appeared in The Big Picture held at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1983), The Photography of Invention: American Pictures of the 1980s, at the National Museum of American Art, Washington, DC (1989) and Early Modernism, at the Photographers Gallery in London (1991).

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