Scott Barley is an artist-filmmaker based in Scotland. His work is primarily concerned with the anthropocene, nature, darkness, absence, cosmology, phenomenology, and mysticism.
His films have been exhibited at festivals and galleries worldwide, including The Institute of Contemporary Arts London, BFI Southbank, Sheffield Doc Fest, Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume, Centre of Contemporary Culture Barcelona, Doclisboa, Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, Venice Biennale, Dokufest, Festival du nouveau cinéma, EYE Filmmuseum, Singapore Art Museum, Telluride Film Festival, QAGOMA, MoMA Rio de Janeiro, MoCA Buenos Aires, Institute of Modern Art Brisbane, MoCA Busan, and Fronteira International Documentary & Experimental Film Festival.
Since early 2015, Barley has almost exclusively shot his films on iPhone. His short film, Hinterlands was voted one of the best films of 2016 in Sight & Sound's yearly film poll.
His first feature-length work, Sleep Has Her House was released in early 2017, garnering acclaim, and winning the Jury Award for Best Film at Fronteira International Documentary & Experimental Film Festival, in Goiânia, Brazil. It later received nominations in Sight & Sound’s 2017 and 2018 film polls, as well as in Sight & Sound’s ‘The best video essays of 2018’. The film also received nominations in Senses of Cinema’s 2017 poll, and The Village Voice 2017 film poll for Best Film, Best First Feature, and Best Director.
In 2018, Barley co-founded Obscuritads — “an international collective focused on rendering the invisible visible” — with filmmaker, Mikel Guillen (Toronto) and curator and programmer, Miquel Escudero Diéguez (Paris, Barcelona).
In early 2020, film historian and theoretician, Nicole Brenez cited Sleep Has Her House as one of the ten best films of the decade, after previously writing that “[Barley’s works] renew our conception of visuality”, and describing him as, “one of the most gifted visual poets of his generation.” In the same year, art history academic and film critic, Borja Castillejo Calvo cited Sleep Has Her House as the second best film of the 2010’s, and Womb (2017) as the best short film of the decade. The film was later included in the 2022 Sight & Sound critics' poll of The Greatest Films of All Time.
Barley has been described as “one of the best artists working in Britain today” and praised for his “re-conceptualisation of montage in digital cinema” with his first feature film, Sleep Has Her House. Danish film critic, and former director of the European Documentary Network, Tue Steen Müller has described him as the “Anselm Kiefer of cinema”.
Barley’s second feature-length film, The Sea Behind Her Head is currently in production. The film is produced by Luke Moody and is funded by the British Film Institute and DocSociety.
Sleep Has Her House Blu-ray
Now available | Buy now
Climate of Cinema:
Isle, the Planet and Postcontact Zone
MoCA Busan, South Korea
6 Apr – 6 Aug 2023
Air / Melting into Air
QAGOMA, Queensland, Australia
26 Nov 2022 – 23 Apr 2023
Best of Spectacle,
Spectacle Theater, New York, USA
Jan 6, Jan 19 & Jan 29 2023