Since the mid-1970s, Ericka Beckman has forged a signature visual language in film, video, installation, and photography. Often shot against black, spatially ambiguous backdrops, her moving image works are structured according to the logic of child’s play, games, folklore, or fairy tales, and populated by archetypical characters and toy-like props in bright, primary colors. Throughout her work, Beckman engages profound questions of gender, role-playing, competition, power and control. Emerging out of the fertile environment of CalArts in the 1970s, Beckman developed the cornerstones of her vocabulary in her early Super-8 films, which are distinguished by their energetic pacing, the performers’ repetitive, ritualistic actions, deceptively simple special effects, and chanted and percussive soundtracks. Her milestone film You the Better (1983) draws on casino games and the consumerist principles undergirding them. In the film, a group of men are engaged in a series of enigmatic ball games, futilely competing against a house that always wins. Over the course of the 1980s, Beckman shifted from the emphasis on social dynamics towards exploring issues of representation and mediatization. The List Center exhibition will include selected works spanning thirty years of Beckman’s career, providing the first opportunity to more fully survey her contribution in a US museum.
Ericka Beckman (b. 1951, Hampstead, NY) lives and works in New York and Boston. Beckman’s works have been shown in museums, galleries, and festivals worldwide. Recent solo exhibitions of her work were mounted at Zabludowicz Collection, London (2018); Kunst-Werke, Berlin (2018); Secession, Vienna (2017); Le Magasin Centre National d’Art Contemporain de Grenoble, France (2014), and Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland (2013). Her work is in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Metropolitan Museum, New York; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, and others.
Ericka Beckman is organized by Henriette Huldisch, Director of Exhibitions & Curator, MIT List Visual Arts Center.
Exhibitions at the List Center are made possible with the support of Fotene Demoulas & Tom Coté, Audrey & James Foster, Idee German-Schoenheimer, Joyce Linde, Jane & Neil Pappalardo, Cynthia & John Reed, and Terry & Rick Stone. In-kind media sponsorship provided by 90.9 WBUR.
General operating support is provided by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; the Council for the Arts at MIT; Philip S. Khoury, Associate Provost at MIT; the MIT School of Architecture + Planning; the Mass Cultural Council; and many generous individual donors. The Advisory Committee Members of the List Visual Arts Center are gratefully acknowledged.