Julie Becker has passed away at the age of 44 in Los Angeles, California. Drawing on the imagined psyche of cultural icons, Becker produced a diverse body of work including dream-like installations, photography, video, sculpture, and drawing.
Born in Los Angeles in 1972, Becker briefly studied at the Hochschule der Künste Berlin in 1991 before returning to Los Angeles to earn a BFA and MFA at CalArts by 1995. In 1996 she showed at Greene Naftali and was the youngest participant in the 23rd São Paulo Biennial, exhibiting perhaps her best-known work, Researchers, Residents, A Place to Rest (1996). Subsequently installed at the Kunsthalle Zürich, this immersive installation is comprised of multiple room-sized environments housing detailed architectural models and omniscient scenes within.
Both sapient and playful, the installation is crafted on the narratives of Danny Torrance, protagonist of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining and Eloise, who lives in the New York Plaza Hotel. The complex installation is a nonlinear journey between physical and psychological spaces. As Becker herself explained, the work provokes “dislocation, an uneasy coexistence between reason and intuition”.
Sagacious in her cultural dissection, Becker foretold our contemporary situation in the mid-nineties: in an interview with Bernhard Bürgi, then-director of the Kunsthalle Zürich, Becker proclaims “… we would not have invented ‘being everywhere instantly’ if our minds were not here already. We should be talking about how this technology is conceptually so similar to how we think.”
In 2002, Becker exhibited Suburban Legend (1999) at the Whitney Museum of American Art. This work manifests the rumor that Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon is an alternative soundtrack for The Wizard of Oz. Fusing the psychedelic album and Technicolor film, Becker plays with the cult-like status of the suburban myth, mystifying the otherworldly in the synchronicity of the two pop-cultural productions.
Julie Becker recently exhibited her iconic photographic depictions of interior corners at The Geffen Contemporary at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2016), as well as evocative drawings at Greene Naftali, New York (2016). Researchers, Residents, A Place to Rest is included in the collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Her work is also included in the public collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Guggenheim Museum, New York, the Hessel Museum of Art, Annandale-on-Hudson, the Denver Art Museum, and the Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zürich.
With an uncanny ability to visually describe disconcerting mental narratives, Julie Becker continues to influence us with her poignant work. She will be thoroughly missed.