Barbara Bloom Goes Through the Looking Glass: Featured in Frieze, Issue 216: The artist discusses her use of mirrors and their ‘destabilizing’ effects

Barbara Bloom in Conversation with Evan Moffitt

  • “I'm constantly working in both two and three dimensions, back and forth. Mirrors are two-dimensional objects, but they reflect the third dimension. When a person looks at a mirror in an artwork, they see themselves looking at the work. I'm trying to call awareness to the active sense of looking.”  

    –Barbara Bloom

  • Evan Moffitt: Mirrors recur throughout your work. What interests you about them? Barbara Bloom: I’m constantly working in both two and three...

    Evan Moffitt: Mirrors recur throughout your work. What interests you about them?

     

    Barbara Bloom: I’m constantly working in both two and three dimensions, back and forth. Mirrors are two-dimensional objects, but they reflect the third dimension. When a person looks at a mirror in an artwork, they see themselves looking at the work. I’m trying to call awareness to the active sense of looking.

     

    EM: Is your understanding of active looking informed by modernism, which centres on the way artworks situate the viewer? 

     

    BB: I’m interested in worlds within worlds, references within references – Charlie Kaufman, Jorge Luis Borges. The first artists who interested me were those making phenomenological work about the nature of seeing, like Robert Irwin and Eric Orr. When you look at Irwin’s dot paintings and then look away, they leave an afterimage. I remember reading Lawrence Weschler’s description of painting as ‘blushing’ in Seeing Is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees [1982] and thinking: ‘My God, that’s what I want to do!’ But I meant it in the psychological sense of your having such an intimate relationship with an artwork that you could make it blush by looking at it.

     

    Read full interview in Frieze

    • BARBARA BLOOM, REFLECTIONS ON MRS. AND MR. VN, 2020 Seamless backdrop paper, table, chair, wallpaper, framed mirror, typewriter, photograph Dimensions variable
      BARBARA BLOOM, REFLECTIONS ON MRS. AND MR. VN2020
      Seamless backdrop paper, table, chair, wallpaper, framed mirror, typewriter, photograph
      Dimensions variable
      $ 75,000.00
    • B Bbloom 20 0005 1
  • Barbara Bloom, Jackie's French Verbs, 2020

    Barbara Bloom

    Jackie's French Verbs, 2020

    In 1996, I came upon the Sotheby’s auction catalogue for the estate of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The catalogue did not aspire to the “whole Jackie,” or even the “true Jackie;” it proclaimed the “residue of Jackie.” As an homage to their absent subject, the objects and the photographs in the catalogue bore something of her aura with them in their elegance and solemnity. It was her absence, the inference of Jackie, that held the objects together.

    There was a lot to shop for, but the single item I coveted most was Lot 166, Jacqueline Bouvier’s schoolgirl French grammar book. Her name and class are written on the cover, and the book contains a double spread with her verb conjugations and girlie cinch-wasted fashion sketches. The book was valued by Sotheby’s at $500-$800, and sold for $42,550. I was not the buyer.
    –Barbara Bloom

     

    Wood desk display, pedestal, glass desk top, glass shelf, mirror shelf, digitally printed
    and pencil marked book
    105 x 61 x 48 cm / 41.3 x 24 x 18.9 inches
     
    $ 24,000.00
  • Barbara Bloom, Works for the Blind (One day, quite some time ago), 1988

    Barbara Bloom

    Works for the Blind (One day, quite some time ago), 1988

    One day, quite some time ago, I happened on a photograph of Napoleon’s youngest brother, Jerome, taken in 1852. And I realized then, with an amazement I have not been able to lessen since: “I am looking at eyes that looked at the Emperor.” Sometimes I would mention this amazement, but since no one seemed to share it, nor even to understand it (life consists of these little touches of solitude) I forgot about it.

    (Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography)

     

    Archival digital prints, braille

    84 x 63.5 x 4 cm / 33.1 x 25 x 1.6 inches
    Edition 12/15
    $ 9,000.00