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Ruth Barker, Circle Work, CCA Glasgow, 2015

Circle Work has been developed specifically for a theatre auditorium. A complex
and immersive experience, it features spoken word, installation, and costume.
Ruth Barker speaks from within an ad-hoc paper mountain that is part sculptural
installation and part large-scale performance garment (designed with Lesley
Hepburn). Taking a shamanic descent into - and re-emergence through -
landscape as its starting point, the work speaks to shifting states of being,
bin bags caught in trees, and a schoolgirl who believes that she is turning into
a horse. Circle Work extends Barker’s interest in autobiography, feminist writing
practice, and unconscious associations, through a new work that adopts the form
of a provisional séance. By turns thoughtful, engrossing, hypnotic, or darkly
humorous, Circle Work is a live work creating a preternatural metaphysical experience.

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Ruth Barker, What To Say When There Is Nothing To Say
(no words no sense of the appropriate), Siobhan Davies Dance Centre,
London, 2015

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Ruth Barker, The White Ink Lecture, The Old Hairdresser's,
Edinburgh, 2015

The White Ink Lecture addresses the audience as a lesson in the form of a
reported seance, summoning a sequence of associative connections
between French feminist philosopher Helene Cixous, tattoos, and Google
image search. Layering a complex set of nested descriptions, the
performance contemporises an ecriture feminine form to critique
assumptions of a singular corporeal / textual experience.

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Ruth Barker, Genius Loci (Echo And Narcissus),2014

Reading with live radio broadcast, 1 hour. Genius Loci (Echo And Narcissus) 
was commissioned for 'Remote Performances', a collaboration between
artists London Fieldworks and Resonance104.4fm, the world’s first art radio station.
For one week in August 2014, 20 specially commissioned artist performances and
programmes created with local residents were broadcast live from Outlandia,
a unique artists’ field-station in Glen Nevis, Lochaber, Scotland.

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Ruth Barker, Demeter Song, 2013
Performance, 20 minutes approx. The script was memorised, and recited as a
spoken word performance by the artist. Garment design and production by Lesley Hepburn. 

Because tonight my daughter is going back.
Tonight she will pull herself down, deep under the soil,
Where I cannot go. She will be lost to me,
Gone cold and lonely down, into the dark earth.
She will lie in the land underground.
And she will lie with the blood of his pomegranates wet on her lips.
Tomorrow I will sing only to mourn her.
Yet again, and the same as always.
Yet again, and the same as always.
Yet again.

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Ruth Barker, A Love Song, For Gilgamesh, 2013
Performance, duration 20 minutes approx. The script was memorised, and recited
as a spoken word performance by the artist for The Oral Tradition programme
at Camden Arts Centre. A Love Song, For Gilgamesh was originally scripted
for the striking location of the empty swimming pool on board the SS Rotterdam
- an ex cruise-ship moored in Rotterdam Harbour.

Photography by Hydar Dewachi. Garment design and production by Carmel O'Brien.

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Ruth Barker, Mouth Open In An Open O, 2012
Performance, 20 minutes approximately. The script was memorised, and recited
as a spoken word performance by the artist. This performance was commissioned
as part of the Between programme for Manchester Cornerhouse. It was also
performed and exhibited at the Agency Gallery 2.

Photography by Jonathan Purcell. Garment design and production by Carmel O'Brien.

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Ruth Barker, Your Leaning Neck - Song as Portrait, Scottish National Portrait Gallery,
Edinburgh, 2012
Your Leaning Neck - Song as Portrait offers an expansive way of considering
portraiture. Featuring unaccompanied vocal performances by performers
from Scots oral tradition and contemporary visual art backgrounds, an objective
of the performance is to challenge preconceptions relating to who or what is
represented in a portrait. The work was created as a site-specific response to the
Scottish National Portrait Gallery's collection of portraits from the Scottish
Enlightenment

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Ruth Barker,New Song for Three Mothers, 2011, Glasgow International Festival
Photography by Clyde Jones,Garment by Lesley Hepburn

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Ruth Barker
Selected Work
Biography/Exhibitions
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Ruth Barker's performance work involves scripting and memorising substantial literary monologues that draw on classical or mythological narratives, but remake them as resonant, current, events. She uses traditional techniques of mnemonic and storytelling to create challenging new performance works in a visual arts context.

Barker understands the act of mythmaking and storytelling as ways of describing the fundamentals of the human condition – acts which are able to influence as well as describe our knowledge of self and imagination. Drawing on works by literary theorists such as Susan Stewart, Marina Warner, Lewis Hyde, and Jaques Derrida, and the poets Ted Hughes, Kathy Acker, and Simon Armitage, Barker relates ideas of narrative structures, repetition, and metamorphosis, to the vivid quality of the live, present female artist.

The re-making of the mythic space of performance becomes a gesture towards the ritual and/or artistic understanding of self, gender, and mortality. Barker's works are recited, without notes, before a live audience and are often composed for specific contexts. This act of recall is a feat of endurance; emotionally loaded and reliant on a concentrated focus that becomes by turns hypnotic, claustrophobic, and cathartic.
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Ruth Barker (Leeds, 1979), lives and works in Glasgow. Recent participations include SOUTH OF NO NORTH, Siobhan Davies Dance, London (2015), Remote Performances, London Fieldworks and Resonance FM (2014), and Glasgow International Festival of Contemporary Art (2014). In 2013 she was named as one of Canongate's 'Future 40'.