Beckman’s work consistently treats film as a performance medium, and draws on the pioneering energy of her years at CalArts and the do-it-yourself sensibilities of New York’s Downtown Scene in the late 1970s and early 80s. It also astutely anticipates the social and cultural impact of video gaming and online networks over recent decades. Shot on 16mm, with all the animation and visual effects being constructed in camera through multiple exposures, Beckman’s films create narratives using the pedagogic and competitive structures of games. They playfully reveal the conditions of gender and identity formation in relation to labour, leisure, architecture and capital.
Ericka Beckman opens alongside a solo exhibition by British artist Marianna Simnett. The exhibitions continue the Collection’s 2018 focus on artists’ film and video and examining ideas of embodiment and performance of identity in relation to technology. Beckman and Simnett have each established unique approaches to storytelling that draw upon fairy tale archetypes and their works share an interest in how gender is constructed and its relationship to mechanisms of desire and capitalist consumption. Their works reflect the impact of new technologies - robotics, virtual reality, bio-medical - on both the built environment and subjectivity. In addition, both artists have developed distinctive uses of sound in their work as a pre-linguistic tool for communication. They utilise tropes of the musical from the abstract repetitions and rhythms of playground chants and nursery rhymes, to the cathartic effect of song as a narrative device.