March 17 – April 16, 2016
Greene Naftali is pleased to announce a special presentation of works on paper by Los Angeles–based artist Julie Becker.
Since the 1990s, Becker’s multimedia practice has activated vacant interior scenes with psychological resonance. Working in drawing, video, photography and installations, Becker portrays spaces expelled of human presence, populated instead with indices thereof that accumulate to layered narratives. Often employing visual tools such as dioramas and miniatures, Becker folds dichotomies of the public and the private, the factual and the fictional, the fantastical and the abject. In works ranging from scaled models constructed with uncanny precision, to drawings combining a calligraphic hand with stream of consciousness scrawlings, Becker consistently unearths the sinister within the commonplace.
Becker’s career was launched with her mid-1990s project Researchers, Residents, a Place to Rest—a large scale, multi-room installation, initiated while Becker was a student at California Institute for the Arts, and realized with a 1996 exhibition at Kunsthalle Zurich. The ambitious project engaged viewers both as active participants operating within its full-scale armature, and as beholders of its miniaturized fictions: one room holds a diorama that positions the fictional “residents” of The Shining and Eloise inhabiting the same hotel, another is filled with a frenzy of ephemera indicating the recent presence of a “researcher.”
In 2002, Becker presented her Suburban Legend at the Whitney Museum of American Art: an enactment of the synchronicity of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and The Wizard of Oz. The psychedelic album and Technicolor film collaborate to demonstrate an urban fiction, heightening the mystifying and the otherworldly in the familiar film.
Becker’s 2002 video work, Federal Building with Music, which debuted at Greene Naftali the same year, was discussed at length by the influential writer Chris Kraus in her 2004 book Video Green, in the form both of correspondence with Becker and as the subject of a critical essay. Created in a cheap apartment in Los Angeles’s now-gentrified Echo Park, Federal Building with Music presents the miniaturized government structure sinking through a crudely cut hole in Becker’s low-rent apartment, descending into the vacant apartment below. Kraus’s meditation on the work concludes:
It is that wonderful moment of madness after everything’s been ripped loose from its moorings and floats, before the anguish and suffering start to set in. The faux-grandeur of commerce and the constriction of poverty exist on the same plane, both are equally present. Art as a form of astral travel between social realms . . .