In 2011, the late curator, artist and writer Ian White described Rosa Barba’s work as ‘a subtle interrogation into and co-option of industrial cinema-as-subject’. She achieves this interrogation and co-option by creating what White called ‘stagings’, which produce a form of cinema that is open to different kinds of gesture and genre. She leaves her authoritative hand as an artist and filmmaker behind and lets herself be constantly open to interpretation, experimentation and collaboration with her subjects. Blurring the lines between science fiction, mythology and its metaphors, her moving image works are not mere projections but rather forms of sculpture that interrogate the viewer’s notion of space and time.
Barba’s 35mm film Aggregate States of Matters is an investigation into inscriptions and transformations of society resulting from changes of landscape. Shooting in Peru, Barba worked with communities affected by the melting of a glacier, which engendered a new sense of geological time in community inhabitants. The film reveals how the slow disappearance of the glacier created a sort of gold rush for the farming communities, offering new opportunities and changes for their lives—even if the new developments seemed to be only temporary. Like Barba’s previous works, the film addresses human attempts to tame nature through collective performances in which the memories of the characters interact with the scenario of the landscape. As Barba notes, 'Throughout my work, I question how we occupy space by investigating crisis through an unusual treatment of time and language. Time is conceived as an accumulation, an archive, rather than a linear progression. Language is abstracted, eluding its typical semiotic function. The destabilising effects of the stories are activated by my use of both fundamental concepts (time and language) in these non-traditional ways. Spatial examination unfolds through the deconstruction of the cinematic apparatus and filmic environment, which is constituted both by film’s physical materials—projectors, screens and celluloid—and its ambient elements: time, space, light and sound. Therefore, I use cinema in order to stage an intervention in a real space, confronting the division between public and private, fantasy and reality....’