With her 36 feet long scrolling collage photographs depicting horizons, Stephanie Barber has created a visual as much as a mental landscape. She stitched together the images by scratching each of the approximately 12,000 frames with a razor along the horizon line. The landscape is framed by a soundtrack consisting of two voices: Jayne Love reads a text the artist wrote for her, in which she reflects on the concept of the horizon. Her thoughts are interspersed with fragments of Richard (Oswan) William’s eccentric yet down to earth living room sermons on the liberating power of death and transcendence.
ANOTHER HORIZON is an experimental documentary that oscillates between fact and fiction and heaven and earth. As in many of her works, Barber takes us on a philosophical inquiry into human existence, with a sense of lightness and an obvious love for language. By tracking the horizon, she has created a metaphor for the fine line between life and death as well as corporality and spirituality. For a sense of orientation, we often turn our gaze toward the far distance, to the place where sky and land seem to meet. However, the horizon is a trick of the eye, an elusive place, since heaven and earth never actually touch. Or, as Jayne Love observes: »You think you are looking at the horizon, but are already looking further.«
If not the horizon, what is it that we are looking at? In a way, Barber’s work can be seen in the tradition of German Romantic art movement that was prevalent in the early 19th century. One of its most famous representatives was Casper David Friedrich, whose vast landscape paintings are deeply rooted the spiritual and the sublime. Barber writes: »The horizon is always elsewhere [...] a promise of transition, change, and transcendence. A place where the corporeal and spiritual meet, or are cleaved apart.«
As a young artist, Barber lived with Richard (Oswan) William and his wife Mary at their voodoo spiritual temple in New Orleans for a few months. She recorded their conversations, which were often accompanied by rum, on cassette. We hear Richard reflect on death as the moment of release that disconnects your soul from your body. His profound and existential thoughts stand in contrast to his unadorned language and humor. One cannot help but smile when his words dissolve into a mantra, while the tenor of his voice and the multiplied horizon merge. Even though »it is not always clear what we are looking at«, there is so much to see on the other horizon. (Nathanja Van Dijk)
Images: Stephanie Barber, Another Horizon, 2020 © Stephanie Barber / Courtesy of Video Data Bank, www.vdb.org, School of the Art Institute of Chicago