Barbara Ess

Photographer Barbara Ess is renowned for her haunting pinhole photographs and for performing in experimental bands in New York City’s 1980s and 90s downtown art scene. Ess has long used unconventional methods to underline the subjective nature of experience and representation. Ess’s recent projects in photography, video, and sound deal with themes of boundaries, distance and separation. Employing lo-fi optical devices and image systems, small telescopes, and a toy microscope, Ess embraces the glitches and unintended artifacts resulting from her processes, seeking to depict the uncertainties of perception and uncover “ambiguous perceptual boundaries between people, between the self and the not self, and between ‘in’ here and ‘out’ there.”

Barbara Ess received a BA from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan and attended the London School of Film Technique in London. Upon her return to New York City she became involved with music, performance, photography and the creation of artist books. Ess has had numerous solo exhibitions of her work throughout the United States and Europe, including retrospectives at the Queens Museum, NY, the Center for Fine Arts, Miami, FL and the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA. Other selected solo exhibitions were held at 3A Gallery, New York, NY; Thierry Goldberg, New York, NY; Incident Report, Hudson, NY; Wallspace, New York, NY; Moore College of Art, Philadelphia PA; Curt Marcus Gallery, New York, NY; Faggionato Fine Arts, London, UK; Frederick Giroux Gallery, Paris, France; Michael Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; Stills Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland; Fundacion La Caixa, Barcelona, Spain; Galeria Espanola La Maquina, Madrid, Spain; Interim Art, London, England; Ghilaine Hussenot, Paris, France and Johnen+Schöttle, Cologne, among others.

Her photographs have been included in group exhibitions at institutions including the Tang Museum, Sarasota Springs, NY; New Museum of Contemporary Art, NY; Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD; Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, NJ; Middlebury College Museum of Art, Middlebury, VT; Southeast Museum of Photography, Daytona Beach, FL; Contemporary Art Center, Cincinnati, OH; Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK; and National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, Japan. Barbara Ess has been the subject of cover stories in Artforum and Art in America and a monograph of her work, I Am Not This Body, was published by Aperture in 2001. Her work is in numerous permanent collections, including The Art Institute of Chicago, The Whitney Museum of American Art, Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, The Carnegie Museum of Art, The Walker Art Center, Pompidou Center/Musée d’Art Moderne, and Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, TX. Barbara Ess lives and works in New York City. She is an Associate Professor of Photography at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson.

Born in 1948, Brooklyn, NY
Lives and works in New York City and Elizaville, NY

Education

1969

BA in Philosophy and English Literature, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

1971

London School of Film Technique, England, UK

Solo Exhibitions

2020

A Philosophy of Photography II, F, Houston, TX

2019

Someone To Watch Over Me, Magenta Plains, New York, NY
Lunatick, 3A Gallery, New York, NY

2011

You Are Not I, HVCC Gallery, Troy, NY

2009

Thierry Goldberg Gallery, New York, NY

2007

I’m (un) easy, Souterrain, Berlin, DE

2004

Frederic Giroux Gallery, Paris, FR
Cipher, Wallspace, New York, NY

2003

The Galleries at Moore College of Art, Philadelphia and Burden Gallery, New York, NY

2000

She Woke With A Start, Curt Marcus Gallery, New York, NY

1998

Faggionato Fine Arts, Londond, England, UK
Curt Marcus Gallery, New York, NY

1997

Kohn/Turner Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

1996

Stills Gallery, Edinburgh, UK

1994

Fundacion la Caixa, Sala Montcada, Barcelona, ES
Curt Marcus Gallery, New York, NY

1993

Barbara Ess: Photography, Installation and Books, Queens Museum, NY; Center for Fine Arts, Miami, FL

1992

High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA
Curt Marcus Gallery, New York, NY
Galería La Máquina, Española, Madrid, ES

1991

I am Not This Body, Michael Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
Curt Marcus Gallery, New York, NY

1990

Galería La Máquina, Española, Madrid, ES
Curt Marcus Gallery, New York, NY

1989

Galerie Ghislaine Hussenot, Paris, FR

1988

Curt Marcus Gallery, New York, NY
Photographs by Barbara Ess, Honolulu Academy of Arts, HI
Galerie Micheline Szwajcer, Antwerp, BE

1987

Honolulu Academy of Arts, Honolulu, HI
Interim Art, London, England, UK
Michael Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
Food for the Moon and Other Photographs, Johnen & Schottle Galerie, Cologne, DE

1986

C.E.P.A. Gallery, Buffalo, NY
Curt Marcus Gallery, New York

1985

The Doppler Effect: Where do we come from? Where are we going?, New Museum, New York, NY
Cable Gallery, New York, NY

1981

Have You Ever Experienced Ecstacy?, Printed Matter, New York, NY
Shameless Longing, J.N. Herlin Books, New York, NY

1980

Census, Franklin Furnace, New York, NY

Group Exhibitions

2020

2020 Invitational Exhibition of Visual Arts, American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York, NY
Independent NY, Magenta Plains, New York, NY

2019

Immersive Spaces, Honolulu Museum of Art, Honolulu, HI
Social Photography VII, carriage trade, New York, NY
Independent NY, Magenta Plains, New York, NY
Food Show 3, 3A Gallery, New York, NY

2018

Social Photography VI, carriage trade, New York, NY
Frieze Art Fair (with Magenta Plains), New York, NY
Arcadias, Magenta Plains, New York, NY

2017

Polaroids: The Disappearing, Nathalie Karg Gallery, New York, NY
Social Photography V, carriage trade, New York, NY
American Interior, carriage trade, New York, NY
The Garden of Forking Paths curated by Adam Marnie, Magenta Plains, New York, NY

2016

Paradise: underground culture in NYC 1978-84, Steven Harvey fine arts projects, New York, NY
DISSENT: what they fear is the light curated by Thom Lawson and Shoghigh Halayian, LACE Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
The Garden Show curated by Sam Korman, Regards, Chicago, IL
The Limited Sphere curated by Peter Brock, 321, Brooklyn, NY
Polaroids!, Invisible Exports, NADA, New York, NY
24-Hour Drone: Experiments in Sound and Music, Basilica, Hudson, NY

2015

Mystery, Momenta Art, Brooklyn, NY
Altered Appearances, Fisher Landau Center for Art, Queens, NY
Dan Graham Collection, 3A Gallery, New York, NY

2014

Photo Invitational, Atwater Gallery, Rhinebeck, NY

2013

The Way We Live Now curated by Shirley Irons, Luisotti Gallery, Santa Monica, CA
The First 15, Tang Museum, Saratoga Springs, NY

2012

Photography Regional, Opalka Gallery, Albany, NY
Center for Photography, Woodstock, NY

2011

Transport, Cypriana Majernika Gallery, Bratislava, SK
Meana Larrucea Collection, Iberdrola Tower, Bilbao, ES
3 x 3 x 3, APT Projects, Brooklyn, NY

2010

2 UP, NADA, Miami, FL
Another Green World, Carriage Trade Gallery, New York, NY, In Numbers: Serial Publications by Artists Since 1955, X Initiative, New York, NY
Bestiarum, Institute D’Art Contemporain, Villeurbanne/Rhône-Alpes, FR
Bowery Tribute, New Museum, New York, NY

2009

Sensational Fix, Kunsthalle, Düsseldorf, DE

2008

The Headphones Show curated by Alan Licht, Abrons Arts Center, New York, NY
Melodrama curated by Laura Parnes, Sara Meltzer Gallery, New York, NY
Black and White, Part 2, Frederic Giroux Gallery, Paris, FR
Bare Market, Thierry Goldberg Projects, New York, NY
Notes on Monumentality, Baltimore Museum of Art, curated by Mark Alice Durant, Baltimore, MD

2007

Brief Encounters, Caren Golden Fine Art, New York, NY
Emily Harvey Foundation curated by Robin Kahn, New York, NY

2006

Music is a Better Noise curated by Nick Stillman, MoMA PS1, Long Island City, NY

2005

Copilandia, curated by GRATIS, Centro de Arte de Sevilla, ES
Triennial of Photographic Arts, Center for Photography, Woodstock, NY
Tune (Out)))side, Free103point9 Transmission Series, Acra, NY

2004

Anthology of Art, Gropius-Bau, Berlin, DE
... because cynicism left yesterday, Disjecta Gallery, Portland, OR
Art and Architecture 1900-2000 curated by Germano Celant, Genoa, IT
Repulsion curated by Heidi Schlatter, University Galleries, Illinois State University, Normal, IL
Subway Series curated by Carlo McCormick and Thomas Solomon, Queens Museum of Art, NY

2003

Photography Past Forward: Aperture at 50, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA
Spot Light on Photography, Hui No’eau Visutal Arts Center, Maui, HI

2002

Private Eyes: Image and Identity, Fine Arts Center, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA
Contemporary Views curated by Peter C. Bunnell, Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, NJ

2000

Drawings and Photographs, Matthew Marks Gallery, New York, NY
Exurbia curated by Shirley Irons, Gallery Luisotti, Santa Monica, CA
Dream Machines selected by Susan Hiller, Hayward Gallery, Londond, England, UK

1999

Female curated by Vince Aletti, Wessell + O’Connor, New York, NY
13, The Robert Mann Gallery, New York, NY
The Big Picture, Middlebury College Museum of Art, Middlebury, VT

1998

Apparitions, Leslie Tonkonow, New York, NY
Landscapes, Meyerson & Nowinski, Seattle, WA
Disappearing Act curated with Robin Kahn and Kirby Gookin, Bound & Unbound and Leslie Tonkonow, New York, NY

1997

Defining Eye: Women Photographers of the Twentieth Century, The Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis, MS
100 Photographs, American Fine Art, New York, NY
Eye of the Beholder: photographs from the Avon Collection, International Center for Photography, New York, NY
Barbara Ess and Bruce Connor, Curt Marcus Gallery, New York, NY
Islas, Centro Atlantico de Arte Moderno, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, ES

1996

Making Pictures: Women and Photography, 1975 - Now, Nicole Klagsbrun, New York, NY
Prospect 96 curated by Peter Weiermair, Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt, DE
Lush curated by Anastasia Aukeman, Cristenrose Gallery, New York, NY
Anima Mundi, James Graham & Sons, New York, NY
Alice’s Looking Glass curated by Mary Beyt, APEX Art, New York, NY

1995

Beyond the Looking Glass: Contemporary Women Photographers, David Adamson Gallery, Washington, D.C.
Scattershot, Nolan/Eckman Gallery, New York, NY
Seeking the Sublime, Southeast Museum of Photography, Daytona Beach, FL
Visions of Childhood, Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY

1994

Chasing Angels, Cristinerose Gallery, New York, NY
The Psychopathology of Everyday Life, Ruth Bloom Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
The World of Tomorrow curated by Douglas Blau, Tommy Solomon, Los Angeles, CA
Pictures of the Real World (In Real Time) curated by Robert Nickas, Paula Cooper Gallery, New York, NY
Figure as Fiction in Visual Art and Literature curated by Dr. Elaine King, Contemporary Art Center, Cincinnati, OH

1993

Memories, Facts & Lies curated by Lawrence Gipe, Blum Helman, New York, NY
Body Exposures, Kunsthaus Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
Vivid: Intense Images by American Photographers, Raab Galerie, Berlin, Germany
The Loss of Intensity curated by Harm Lux, Shedhalle, Zurich, Switzerland
Fictions of the Self, Herter Art Gallery, University of Massachusetts. Amherst, MA
Multiplicity, Thea Westreich, New York, NY
Mirror/Mirror, Center for Photography, Woodstock, NY
Songs of Retribution, Richard Anderson Fine Arts, New York, NY

1992

Open Mind: The Lewitt Collection, Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT
Die 29. Ausstellung, Mai 36 Galerie, Luzern, CH
Un Secreto Fluir, Galeria La Maquina Espanola, Madrid, ES
Dysfunction in The Family Album, curated by David Humphrey, Diane Brown Gallery, New York, NY

1991

Postmodern Prints, Victoria and Albert Museum, Londond, England, UK
The Library curated by Douglas Blau, Josh Baer Gallery, New York, NY
The Sibylline Eye organized by Barbara Gross Gallery and Foto e.V., Kunsthalle, Munich, DE
Contemporary Abstract Photography, Compass Rose Gallery, Chicago, IL
Open Mind: The Lewitt Collection, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT

1990

Images in Transition, National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, JAP
Shifting Focus, Serpentine Gallery, London and Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol, UK
Figures et Lectures, Galerie Samia Saouma, Paris, FR
The Indomitable Spirit curated by Marvin Heiferman, International Center of Photography Midtown, New York, NY
Romance and Irony in Recent American Art curated by Louis Grachos, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth, AU
Botanica: The Secret Life of Plants, Lehman College Art Gallery, Bronx, NY
Empire State Biennial, The Everson Museum, Syracuse, NY
Images in Transition, National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto and Tokyo, JAP
Collection des oeuvres photographiques 1983-1990, Musée de La Roche-sur-Yon, FR
Maureen Paley Interim Art, London, UK

1989

Arrangements I, Mai 36 Galerie, Lucerne, FR
Broken Landscape, Discarded Object, P.P.O.W., New York, NY
Marta Cervera Gallery, New York, NY
Through a Glass, Darkly, University Galleries, Illinois State University, Normal, IL
Parallel Views, ARTI, Amsterdam, NE
Shifting Focus, Serpentine Gallery, London and Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol, UK
The Photography of Invention, National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
The Observatory, Thomas Solomon’s Garage, Los Angeles, CA
Obscured, Josh Baer Gallery, New York, NY
Galerie Georges Verney-Carron, Lyon, FR
Fauxtography, Art Center College, Pasadena, CA
Abstraction in Contemporary Photography, Emerson Gallery, Hamilton College, Clinton, NY
Memory and Artifact: Romanticism Revisited, Barbara Fendrick Gallery, New York, NY

1988

Media, Post Media, Scott Hanson Gallery, New York, NY
Photography on the Edge, Patrick and Beatrice Haggerty Museum of Art, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI
Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh, PA
Certain Shots, McNeil Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
Democracy and Education, DIA Art Foundation, Organized by Group Material, New York, NY
Das Licht von der anderen Seite, Monika Sprüth Gallery, Cologne, DE
Made in Camera, Galleri Sten Erikson, Stockholm, SE
Of Another Nature, Loughelton Gallery, New York, NY

1987

In Black and White, The Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA
Arrangements for the Camera, The Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD
Cash/Newhouse, New York, NY
Contemporary Diptychs: Divided Visions, Whitney Museum of American Art, Stamford, CT
The New Romantic Landscape, Whitney Museum of American Art, Stamford, CT
Interim Art (with James Casebere), London, UK
Zeitgenossenschaft/The Contemporary, Forum Stadtpark, Graz, AT
Non in Codice, Galleria Pieroni and the American Academy, Rome, IT
Poetic Injury: The Surrealist Legacy in Contemporary Photography, Alternative Museum, New York, NY
Visual Paradox: Truth and Fiction in the Photographic Image, Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, WI
Consonance, ISD Corp., New York, NY

1986

Photography, 303 Gallery, New York, NY
New New York, Cleveland Center for Contemporary Art, Cleveland, OH
Inaugural Exhibition, Curt Marcus Gallery, New York, NY
Ultrasurd, S.L. Simpson Gallery, Toronto, CA
Thought Objects, Cash/Newhouse, New York, NY
New York, Vancouver, New York, Johnen & Schottle, Cologne, DE
Middendorf Gallery, Washington, D.C.
Apparitions and Allusions: Photographs of the Unseen, University Art Gallery, San Diego, CA
Remembrances of Things Past, Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach, CA
The City and the Street, La Mama La Galleria, New York, NY

1985

Painting, Sculpture, Photography, Cable Gallery, New York, NY
Rudiger Schottle Gallery, Munich, DE
Minimal Representation, Jan Baum Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
Currents, The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA
De Facto, Art Salon, New York, NY

1984

Con Rumore, Galerie Westersingel, Rotterdam, NL
Sex, Cable Gallery, New York, NY

1983

Hundreds of Drawings, Artists Space, New York, NY

1982

Audio Arts at the Tate Gallery, London, UK
Susan Hiller/Barbara Ess, White Columns, New York, NY

1981

Pictures and Promises, The Kitchen, New York, NY
Books, White Columns, New York, NY

1980

Speaking Volumes: Women Artists’ Books, A.I.R. Gallery, New York, NY

1978

Library, 5 Bleecker Street, New York, NY

Selected Filmography

2009

You!, and Wildcat Movie: 2 short videos from You Are Not I

2008

Short Videos

2000

Acid Karaoke, 46’
When Mowing, Know That You Are Mowing, 23’

1994

No Title (After The Red Shoes), 5’50”

Selected Discography

2004

Phobia, sound installation, 2004/2007, 6’ 40”

2003

Radio/Guitar: “Thrum”, vinyl with Peggy Ahwesh, 2003, Table of the Elements, 2003

2002

Radio/Guitar, CD with Peggy Ahwesh, 2001, Ecstatic Peace, 2002

1998

Y Pants, comprehensive re-release, Periodic Document #01, 1998

1995

Twist in Bed, Ultra Vulva EP, Drum Core, 1995

1988

“High Voltage Humans,” Tellus (New York: Harvest Works, Inc.), no.1, side two. (Audio cassette.)

1984

"Excerpts from A Streetcar Named Desire (for Blanche)”, Tellus #6, cassette magazine, New York: Harvest Works Inc., nos. 5 and 6. (Audio cassette and booklet with Barbara Barg.)

1983

“You Who Know No Pain”, Tellus #1, (New York: Harvest Works, Inc.), no. 1, side two. (Audio cassette.)

1982

Beat It Down, Y Pants LP, Neutral Records
Audio Arts, London, cassette compilation
“Lie to Air: Artists’ Sound Works.” Audio Arts Magazine (London) 5, nos. 3 and 4, side 1. (Three audio cassettes with brochure.)

1981

“Beat It Down”, Noise Fest (New York: ZG Music), no. 5. Cover design also. (Audio cassette with Y Pants.)

1980

“Entrada”, Just Another Asshole #5, LP compilation, New York
Y Pants, 99 Records (EP record)

1982

“You Who Know No Pain,” Short Pieces for Female Voice. The Kitchen, New York. 30 November.

1979

Dan Graham, The Static, At Riverside Studios London Performances
Ecstás: Je cherche toi, tu mélude. Franklin Furnace, New York. 3 April
Untitled, 3 Mercer Street, New York. Performed by Nina Canal and Robert Appleton.

Public Collections

The Lewitt Collection, Chester, CT
The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth, AU
The Art Institute of Chicago, IL
The Booth Art Collection, University of Chicago, IL
The Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA
Caldic Collection, Rotterdam, Netherlands
The Chase Manhattan Bank, N.A.
First National Bank of Minneapolis, MN
F.N.A.C. (Fonds National D’Art Contemporain), Paris, France
FRAC Centre-Val de Loire, Orléans, France
FRAC Limousin, Limoges, France
Kunsthaus, Zurich, Switzerland
La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art, La Jolla, CA
List Art Center/David Winton Bell Gallery, Brown University, Providence, RI
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth, TX
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX (Allan Chasanoff Photography Collection)
Musee National d'Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France
Musée de La Roche sur Yon, France
National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
New School for Social Research, New York, NY
The New Orleans Museum of Art, LA
Princeton University Art Museum, NJ
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA
The Tampa Museum of Art, FL
Toledo Museum of Art, OH
The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN
The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY

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