Barth’s photography isn’t about what is seen in the photograph; it’s about the very act of seeing. How does one take a photograph about the act of seeing? By removing the subject from the photograph. By situating the photograph in a setting that is both anonymous and familiar. By eliminating all but the most universally abstract elements from the frame.
Barth deliberately clears away any sign of herself in her work. The inclusion of any personal item, she says, makes the photograph about her. “Shoes on the floor, clothes, letters and objects on my desk immediately construct a narrative and identity of the person, and there you have it: I’m the subject.”
In a subtle way, Uta Barth uses that blur to ask the viewer a question: is the world around us only important because it is around us? Is our physical environment only worthwhile as a backdrop for ourselves, or the things we want to focus on? By drawing our attention to the blurred foreground and background and away from what would be the clear subject, Barth is reminding us that the world and everything in it exists independent of us and independent of anything to do with us. The world is NOT just our background.