“The camera sort of teaches you to see in a really different way and to experience your environment in a different way, and to pay attention to the act of looking.”
Photographer Uta Barth’s photographs focus on the act of looking. She has long been interested in creating images in which there is no discernable subject, but rather the image or light itself is the subject. Barth’s conceptual photographs examine how we see and how we define foreground and background. Her series are often long-term engagements; she photographs the same place over many months, or even years, to understand how light changes a space over time. She recently completed a series at the Getty Center taken over the course of a year and comprising over 60,000 images. Barth has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation.
In this episode, Barth discusses her approach to making images through several of her bodies of work including Ground, Figure, and her new Getty series. Her career will be the subject of a retrospective at the Getty Center in fall 2022.
“The underworld, the afterlife, is fairly dank, dark, shadowy; quite frankly, it’s a bit boring. Somewhat like waiting at a bus depot.”
Homer’s Odyssey depicts an afterlife that is relatively dull, with heroic actions and glory reserved for the living. Nonetheless, people in Southern Italy in the fourth century BCE were captivated by the underworld and decorated large funerary vases with scenes of the afterlife—the domain of Hades and Persephone, where sinners like Sisyphus are tortured for eternity and heroes like Herakles and Orpheus performed daring feats. Little is known about precisely how these vases were used and seen in death rituals. A new book by Getty Publications, Underworld: Imagining the Afterlife in Ancient South Italian Vase Painting, brings together 40 such vases and explores new research on them.
In this episode, Getty Museum curator of antiquities David Saunders discusses these enormous and often elaborate vases, explaining the myths they depict and what is known about the ways in which they were used. Saunders is editor of Underworld.