Day 1 | Barbara Agreste

My films are experimental, I work very much with animation, but I often mix two-dimensional successions of drawings and three-dimensional settings (animated using the “stop motion” technique) with real life shots. I like crossing over layers of different bits of film that were created with these different techniques. A lot of time based images in my films are abstract. I do not use narrative, action or talking, and the narration is for me what happens through the succession of images and places that appear on the screen one after the other with their elements moving into and out of the frame. Very often, I include figurative elements to the scenes that I construct: they could be objects created with clay carefully put in the right pace to signify a particular concept, real human beings moving and conveying particular emotions, or falling plants and water to give to the viewer the sense that a change is in progress. I think the most important thing in a movie is the shape of objects or their colors that alone can express a mood or send a message without the needs for words.

It is useful for me to stop for some time working with the camera, and start dealing with materials like paper, water, glue, canvas and clay: my video work is very much connected to the making of art. I think more like a sculptor or a photographer; I am much more a marker of shapes that when interlaced with time and sound make things happen, than a story teller.

The Tower Trilogy, 2005 – 10:00 mins

Barbara Agreste was born in Pescara. Very early in her life she showed a passion for drawing, and her parents agreed to let her train at the art school in her city, a period in which she also took dancing classes and and trained as an actress at a regional Academy of Performing Arts. Later she moved to Milan to attend a course in Theatrical Design at Brera Academy of Arts, and soon after she moved to London where she continued her studies of contemporary dance, soon starting to work as a performer for Rawhead Dance Theatre Company. After her experience with theatre and live performance, Barbara returned to devote herself to the visual arts enrolling in Kent Institute of Art & Design where she learned the techniques of Film & Video Production, and deepened her knowledge of psychoanalysis, philosophy, gender studies, and film theory. Barbara graduated from KIAD in Visual Communication with First Class Honours, and returning to London achieved a Masters degree in Fine Art at Central St. Martins College of Art & Design (University of the Arts). Since then Barbara has continued producing film, music, photographs, and paintings, exhibiting and attending film festivals all around the world. Barbara lives and works in London although her visits to Italy are very frequent.

Barbara Agreste – London United Kingdom | Pescara Italy

10 thoughts on “Day 1 | Barbara Agreste

  1. The succession of images in these videos are very jolting, along with the music it out me on edge, and I didn’t exactly know what was going on in them. The building of the noise and the alarms in the background, as they got louder the tension heightened but there was no release.
    I liked the element of the hand in them, the fact that she drew or scratched and then overlayed it made an interesting visual experience of texture, light and shadow. It began to take on an abstract effect with barely recognizable images which added a very interesting element to the videos.

    • I have written a text recently that explains a little bit more about my Video “The Tower Trilogy”, I thought I might share it with you.

      “The chessboard is a playground. Visually a floor with no patterns would convey the feeling of inconsistency: it could become a slippery floor, one with no reference points, no distinction between near and far, and maybe no clear divide between the sky and the earth.

      The checkered floor indicates me precisely where it begins and where it ends, it also makes me recognize any of its irregularities, the lines that cross it make me be sure of bumps and holes, I feel secure on it, and I would definitely better dance with my feet on it rather than choose a one color floor.

      It is an horizontal plane traced with charcoal, and painted with thick varnish: the Chessboard, the place where precise and well thought moves are to be made by many pieces. A large checkered floor with actors as elements of the game, could be the parody of a real life battle.

      Imagine to stand on this kind of floor, or on a big chessboard where the squares are sufficiently big to contain comfortably both feet of an individual, then you would impersonate one of the pieces of this game: standing there would mean waiting for some check from anywhere, and anytime to come and scatter you away, you are then playing a “life game”.

      Look out for your life, be really careful not to stand on the Bishop’s path, or the Tower’s: remember how all the others pieces move, and in what direction they’ll go…

      In my video “The Tower Trilogy”, the first part is about a frenetic and intermittent movement of the head of a doll child, trying to deceive and escape from this kind of dangerous external merciless check. It is a mortal check, but until it really comes in, you don’t really know where it comes from, as it always gets its targets by surprise.

      Years ago I was observing a friend of mine performing a strange game with his life: after seeing that I decided to set up a scene in my video that would have to convey a sense of “insecure position”, representing an endangered and uncontrolled state in a mad and exessively fast world of betrayal.

      This kind of position on the red spot of the checkered floor would have to be clear: the “self”, the piece owned by the viewer, is exposed and threatened by an invisible checker at any time… The Trilogy is about the “loss of control”, a theme that I kept following and developing throughout all of my video work.

      The loss of control is a major subject in my visual research, and it is thanks to the possibility of making the images “move” with film and video, I’ve been able to represent this concept the way I wanted.”

  2. I normally don’t like videos that use a lot of layering because it tends to look like they just used layers to hide their skill and make things more complicated than what it really is. However I did not feel that while watching Barbara Agreste’s video. I thought it was very effective and I like the stop action that was incorporated as well. Although the video is 10 min. long and it was probably made to loop so you didn’t have to watch the whole thing I was very intrigued and could not stop watching .

  3. I think that this video is an example of how we bring our own visual baggage to everything we watch. I founds this every intriguing, but the use of the chess board and and altered, but still recognizable chess pieces, as well that the dream-like aesthetic made me thing a of dark Alice and Wonderland. I’m not sure if it was intentional or even if there is a conscious acknowledgment of it, but it’s become such a trite subject for artists that it threw me off alittle.

  4. I appreciate the stop action found within the video but the spinning baby head and chess pieces seem a bit too repetitive. I liked how the sound got louder and louder as the piece advanced but it didn’t really come to a conclusion for me.

  5. in this film it was hard for me to pinpoint what the concept of it was. after reading her artist’s statement though, i think that that is the point. i appreciate things that are vague and allow the viewer to interpret it for themselves. to me, the chessboard with the baby head, grass and dew forming, then vanishing, and then forming again represents life, death, and rebirth.

  6. Art is a expression but one struggles with this video. Layering is useful to refocus the attention to a new series or idea. However, in this video the layering overwhelms the viewer and it is difficult to grasp the concept. It is understood this is a sculptural piece but dimensions are flat because there is no focus or organization.

  7. The use of the chess board was a strong component considering the board is a use of strategy. The baby heads on the chess board spinning added an eerie effect somewhat of a sadistic feel i may say.

  8. outstanding. the entire piece makes me uncomfortable. anything that can pull that out of me is more than noteworthy. the use of hair (completely grosses me out) adds a consistent texture that adds a different dimension to the video. The whole video has an ominous/creepy feel to it that i can appreciate. between the doll heads the clay shapes, water falling, color palette, hair … it all comes together very nicely to evoke the same feeling throughout.

  9. Pingback: 17 Days Video Series - Curated by Adriane Little, Atrium Gallery, CEPA

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