When I announced to Eva Barto1 that I had to write a note on her work, she begged me not to launch into a description of it. “Anyway, I bet you won’t be able to!” she added, laughing. Miffed at first, I soon realised however that she was right.
Despite our past discussions and my interest in her work, it was impossible for me to precisely describe the elements that make up this corpus. A certain number of works came to mind but the ensemble (pervaded with figures of the forger and the big-time gambler, by tactics of avoidance, debt, fraud, or bids, by fictional economic models of instrumentalisation, like dummy corporations…) escaped ekphrasis – a notion from the rhetorical manuals of ancient Greece and Rome that refers to any abiding evocation of a given subject, by enabling it to suddenly appear before the eyes of its intended beholder. Over the course of my discussion with Eva Barto, I understood that the problematic involved in this reticence concerned the integrity of her work, as though its relative opacity was part and parcel with preventive conservation standards, like rates of hygrometry, temperature, or the amount of lumens. For many artists, any form of dissemination is welcome, since it contributes to the means required for the conditions of existence of an artistic career. For Eva Barto, it seems on the contrary that an excess of poorly controlled visibility might prejudice her works – corrode them, somehow, like rust on metal. There are no photos in the artist’s portfolio. Very few artworks are indexed in Google Images. Eva Barto’s strategies resist description. As the instigators of a representational crisis, the artworks she produces are the blocking instruments that short-circuit the pathways of production, distribution, and exchange that fuel the systems of accumulation of capital.