Gertrude is pleased to present Earthbound (2022), the organisation’s second Digital Commission for 2022 and the second video work by the Meanjin Brisbane based artist James Barth. The work is accompanied by a score from Naarm Melbourne based composer and sound artist Isha Ram Das.
In Earthbound, viewers explore a digitally rendered space where a humid, sub-tropic atmosphere permeates. Images of lush canopies are interspersed with piles of compost and rubble. Glass louvres are left half-opened, tentatively beckoning a limp breeze. Fruit or their peels are abandoned to sweat and rot. Only the flies flit busily across our vision. Contrasting forces of energy and fatigue mix. Later the cooler dusk arrives and the work's protagonist emerges to move about the environment. Though now free of the day's heat, the figure seems still burdened by a sense of ennui, listless amongst her domestic mundanity. To be earthbound is to be uninspired, grounded, stuck on or in the soil. For Barth, this state does not negate growth, but instead is a fertile site for transformation; cyclical, fecund, and where powers of both decomposition and regeneration are co-present.
Barth's unique practice reflects her intersecting interests in painting, photography, self portraiture, science fiction, and cinematic languages. The artist's work, especially her painterly practice, considers how digital space influences subjectivity and the physical, poetically reflecting on both transgender identity and representation more broadly. In her paintings, avatars that recall the artist's own image fluctuate between the tangible and ambiguous. Her compositions for paintings are created using digital 3D modelling, where avatars of the artist are formed and posed to create intricate tableau. In Barth's videos these compositions are animated, widening the frame to explore the intricate worlds that her avatars inhabit.
Barth’s recent solo exhibitions include The Placeholder, Milani Gallery (2021); ZONWEE: the last known recording of a daydream in collaboration with Spencer Harvie, Boxcopy and Screen Tests, Milani Gallery CARPARK (both 2019); and Otonaroid, Woolloongabba Art Gallery (2015). Her work has been featured in a number of group exhibitions including: Embodied Knowledge: Contemporary Queensland Art, Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (2021); New Woman, Museum of Brisbane (2019); Assuming Surface, Outer Space (2018); and Crossexions, Metro Arts and The Cross Art Projects, Sydney (2016), amongst others. In 2016 Barth obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Visual Art) with first class Honours at the Queensland College of Art, Griffith University. Her work is held in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri Canberra; Monash University Museum of Art, Naarm Melbourne; and Griffith University Art Museum, Meanjin Brisbane, as well as various private collections. Barth is represented by Milani Gallery, Meanjin Brisbane.