Bark’s earliest photo booth piece, created in 1969 in New York City’s Times Square, was conceived as a participatory piece in which Bark asked members of the public to enter the booth and have their photo taken and then take one of the pictures themselves. Although he acquired his own photo booth in 1972, Bark maintained his interest in the “marginal public/private space” of the booths he found in Times Square where in 1973, presaging the Pictures Generation, he re-photographed body builder, wrestler, beauty and porn magazines. On cross country road trips out West in 1972 and 1975, Bark made other works in the public photo booths in various towns, inserting himself each time into one of the strips among the strangers, emphasizing his “everyman” status and denying the cult of the artist as lone genius.
In 1973, Bark began using his personal photo booth to actively explore the limits of experimentation within the confinements of the booth’s cramped space and the inability to alter the lens, shutter speed or format. Treating it as a private theater and a tiny studio space, Bark used his body as a ground for painting or made abstractions by placing cardboard and sticks in front of the lens. Sometimes he merged the two, using his arms as an element with which to simulate sine waves or geometric forms. Given their sequential nature, some images take on a cinematic quality, occupying a unique position between photography and film, heightened by the interplay of movement and stasis.
The artist’s interest in questions of seriality, built-in constraints, and authorship echo contemporaneous artistic movements, including conceptualism and minimalism; he cites Sol LeWitt as having a significant impact on his artistic formation. However, Bark approaches these issues with a more playful attitude. Careful planning of the work with drawings and notes did not entirely mitigate mistakes and accidents, which the artist relished.
Born in 1944, Jared Bark received his BA from Stanford University in 1966. Featured early in his career in Harold Szeeman's 1969 seminal exhibition, When Attitudes Become Form, at the Kunsthalle Bern, Bark’s work has been featured in exhibitions at numerous international institutions including Institute of Contemporary Art, London; Musée de l’Élysée, Lausanne, Switzerland; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. His work can be found in numerous public collections including the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, New York; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; The Guggenheim, New York; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; National Gallery, London; National Gallery, Washington, D.C.; Nelson Atkins Museum, Kansas City; Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT; The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and Museum of Modern Art, New York. Bark’s monograph Photobooth Pieces, was published by Hunter’s Point Press in 2016.
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