Ruth Barker is a Glasgow-based artist originally from Leeds, in the North of England. She completed a first class BA (Hons) in Environmental Art at Glasgow School of Art in 2001, and an MFA (Master of Fine Art) at GSA in 2004.
From a background in site and context specific practice, Barker's most recent work has been primarily text and performance based. She produces work for galleries as well as for more public locations and sees a balance between the permanent public commissions she's worked on (often civic memorials), and her essentially ephemeral, transient performative work.
Recent public commissions include the design of the first permanent British war memorial to commemorate non-combatants killed in conflict. The Choir Loft is a grade II listed monument, and is sited beside the Cenotaph in Blackpool, UK. Recent performance projects include Sym-po-zeum an Open Glasgow commission for Glasgow International Festival of Contemporary Art; and How We Can Open The Lotus, a performance at Machon Hamayim, Givaataim, Israel.
Currently Ruth is working on a 10 month Leverhulme Residency at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Artefact Studies (based at the University of Newcastle, UK), and a Creative Lab residency at the CCA, Glasgow. In November 2010 she will exhibit at Sils, Rotterdam.
About The Work:
Ruth Barker's performance work involves scripting and memorising substantial literary monologues that draw on classical or mythological narratives, but remake them as resonant, current, events. She uses traditional techniques of mnemonic and storytelling to create challenging new performance works in a visual arts context.
Barker understands the act of mythmaking and storytelling as ways of describing the fundamentals of the human condition – acts which are able to influence as well as describe our knowledge of self and imagination. Drawing on works by literary theorists such as Susan Stewart, Marina Warner, Lewis Hyde, and Jaques Derrida, and the poets Ted Hughes, Kathy Acker, and Simon Armitage, Barker relates ideas of narrative structures, repetition, and metamorphosis, to the vivid quality of the live, present female artist.
The re-making of the mythic space of performance becomes a gesture towards the ritual and/or artistic understanding of self, gender, and mortality. Barker's works are recited, without notes, before a live audience and are often composed for specific contexts. This act of recall is a feat of endurance; emotionally loaded and reliant on a concentrated focus that becomes by turns hypnotic, claustrophobic, and cathartic.