Hoogtij#64: “A Picture, A Thousand Words” by Barbara Bloom

In the framework of Hoogtij#64 Online edition Page Not Found proposes a poetic close-up into one of our favourite publications: “A Picture, A Thousand Words” by Barbara Bloom. 

The book was published on the occasion of Bloom’s exhibition at David Lewis Gallery in 2017. The inspiration comes from a Roberto Bolaño short story, called “Labyrinth”. The story consists of  Bolaño’s meandering and speculative extrapolations upon an anonymous photograph of eight French intellectuals seated at a cafe table: Jacques Henric, Philippe Sollers, Julia Kristeva, Pierre Gyotat  and Marc Devade. A picture. A thousand words. Barbara Bloom likewise extrapolates from fragmentary evidence and discusses a mystical selection of seven photographs.

Barbara Bloom (1951, USA) is a visual artist whose conceptual practice relies mainly on photography and installation. Beginning in the 1970s, Bloom has created work in a variety of different mediums including photography, installation, film, and books.

In conversation with Susan Tallman, Barbara Bloom has referred to herself as a “novelist who somehow ended up in a ‘visual artist’ queue”. Bloom has often compared herself, and the viewer of her work, to a ‘detective’ who is confronted with disparate clues and is asked to form some kind of visual narrative. Her work is often about the nature of looking. She engages her viewer, seducing him/her into a beautifully constructed visual world, one that is underlaid by subversive wrenches thrown in.

“Door Jam. Photo: Elliott Erwitt. 1962. Sofia Lauren and Anthony Perkins dancing in Paris during the filming of ‘Five Miles to Midnight’. Sofia and Anthony are dancing together but they are in separate worlds even though they are in the same room. Sofia is voluptuous and three-dimensional; Anthony appears miniaturized, two-dimensional. This awkwardness mirrors their public personas and personal relationship. The door jamb extends and re-enacts this scenario: you encounter the photograph in the mirror.”

5 March, 2021, from 7pm