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FROM THE ARCHIVE | Julie Becker

Federal Building with Music, 2002

March 24, 2020

Julie Becker’s Federal Building with Music, 2002 , DVD, projector screen and wood bench

Julie Becker’s Federal Building with Music, 2002 

DVD, projector screen and wood bench

29:08 min

 

First exhibited at Greene Naftali in 2002, Federal Building with Music demonstrates Becker’s deft navigation of the unsettling ambiguity between public and private spaces. Becker began a project titled Whole in 1999, which became a fragmented and open-ended series of individual works – including this one. 

 

Created in Becker’s own apartment, the 29-minute Super 8 film centers around the California Federal Bank Building. In one of her notebooks, Becker writes: “FEDERAL BABEL/CALIFORNIA, casting the CalFed building as a looming end-of-times monument to the hubristic alignment between capital, evangelism and real-estate development.” The work cuts between footage of the Modernist monolith captured from her window, the interior space of her apartment, and a handmade scale model of the CalFed bank. The work’s soundtrack is music by the Mexican technobanda Banda Arkángel R-15, taken from a cassette tape Becker found in the CalFed Bank’s parking lot. 

 

For the majority of her adult life, Becker lived in Los Angeles’ Echo Park neighborhood, home to a predominantly Latinx community in the 1990s. In the intervening decades, this area has been gentrified dramatically, displacing many long-term residents, including Becker. In Federal Building with Music and related works, Becker obliquely references these conditions—interior spaces appear temporal and volatile, while simultaneously maintaining the spectre of mystical transformation.

 

In her 2004 book Video Green, Chris Kraus discusses the work at length through a critical essay and an epistolary correspondence with the artist. Read both texts in the PDFs available for download at the Texts tab.

Julie Becker, Federal Building with Music, 2002 (detail)

Julie Becker, Federal Building with Music, 2002 (detail)

Julie Becker, Federal Building with Music, 2002 (detail)

Julie Becker, Federal Building with Music, 2002 (detail)

Julie Becker, Federal Building with Music, 2002 (detail)

Julie Becker, Federal Building with Music, 2002 (detail)

Julie Becker, Federal Building with Music, 2002 (detail)

Julie Becker, Federal Building with Music, 2002 (detail)

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