MK Gallery website sets cookies on your computer to help improve the user experience. Read our cookie policy hereAccept
Thursday Scratch Nights

Artists Moving Image Programme

Rosa Barba

Rosa Barba: Subconscious Society (film still)

Rosa Barba: Subconscious Society (film still)

Rosa Barba: Subconscious Society (film still)

Artists' Moving Image Programme: Rosa Barba

Thursday 1 October / 7pm / Free


Book tickets


Rosa Barba’s work considers the situations of cinema, whether it be the physical characteristics of celluloid, light, projector and sound, the structures of narrative, or its often improbable people, places or stories. Barba takes a sculptural approach to film, often taking apart its elements to create new mobile objects or directing the camera at objects and landscapes with a particular attention to form. 





  • Subconscious Society (2014), 35mm transferred to HD video, colour, sound, 40 min
  • The Empirical Effect (2009), 16mm film transferred to HD video, colour, sound, 27 min

    Subconscious Society (2014) is about the end of the industrial era and the transition to the digital age, in which computer code and the clone or copy are in the process of replacing material objects and analogue technology. In the film, this paradigm shift is represented in the form of a social community, whose protagonists make a final attempt at assigning and archiving objects from the past. It is set in a transitional realm where the past exists only as a reference to itself and the details of the present are not fully decipherable yet.

    The Vesuvio volcano can be held as a central metaphor for the complex relationships between society and politics in Italy. Its powerful, unpredictable, destructive existence, along with its location in a densely populated area on the Mediterranean coast ensure that it is ever-present in the collective memory. Science has yet to discover a way to control this immense force of nature, and yet it is invisibly tied to the inhabitants and their environment.


    The Empirical Effect (2009) charts the stories of a society whose lives are infused with an incredible tension, yet are paralyzed and docile. At the foot of the sleeping monster, the mafia runs its empire, filtering untold numbers of illegal Chinese migrants into a secretive parallel society. They remain visible only in their social impact; meanwhile all official attention is focused on the volcano, where nature is dramatised as a media spectacle – a powerful structure beyond comprehension. It is perhaps similar in this sense to the ways in which the obscure social situation at its foot is mystically narrated. Even history acts ironically here; the last eruption, in 1944 during the Second World War, coincided with the bombing of the region by the US Army. 

    The protagonists of The Empirical Effect are witnesses to this catastrophic 1944 eruption, with shooting taking place during a test evacuation in Summer 2009. I worked closely with the Osservatorio Vesuviano in Naples, and with inhabitants of the “Red Zone”, presenting them as a community separated from its original context and placed in a new setting (the Old Osservatorio next to the crater) to reveal unexplored aspects of their existence. The mix of their views and stories creates a realised utopia, a place where nothing seems contradictory, but includes absurd ideas and paradoxical actions within a single frame.



    This event is presented in association with the ICA with support from

    The Foyle Foundation. (


    ICA logo



    October 2015


    What are Scratch Nights?

    Happening every Thursday evening at the Gallery, Scratch Nights are a series of events by emerging local and national practitioners working in music/sound, film, expanded cinema, performance and spoken word.


    Watch our videos

    Browse videos of past Scratch Night events


    Join our group

    Join our Scratch Night Facebook group for the latest news and events