May 24 - July 28, 2019
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 U.S. museum.