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Becky Beasley P.A.N.O.R.A.M.A.

5 September 16 October 2010

installation view, P.A.N.O.R.A.M.A.
Office Baroque Gallery, Antwerp, 2010

installation view, P.A.N.O.R.A.M.A.
Office Baroque Gallery, Antwerp, 2010

installation view, P.A.N.O.R.A.M.A.
Office Baroque Gallery, Antwerp, 2010

installation view, P.A.N.O.R.A.M.A.
Office Baroque Gallery, Antwerp, 2010

installation view, P.A.N.O.R.A.M.A.
Office Baroque Gallery, Antwerp, 2010

Becky Beasley
Lake Erie from the Northwest, 2010
gelatin Silver print
114 × 166cm

Becky Beasley
Lake Michigan from the East, 2010
gelatin Silver print
114 × 166cm

Becky Beasley
Lake Superior from the North Northeast, 2010
gelatin Silver print
114 × 166cm

Becky Beasley
Lake Ontario from the South, 2010
gelatin Silver Print
114 × 166cm

Becky Beasley
Lake Huron from the Southwest, 2010
gelatin Silver Print
114 × 166cm

Becky Beasley
The Great Lakes, 2010
linoleum (Laponia and Dark Bistre)
dimensions variable
edition of 2 + 1AP

Becky Beasley
The Great Lakes, 2010
linoleum (Laponia and Dark Bistre)
dimensions variable
edition of 2 + 1AP

Becky Beasley
The Great Lakes, 2010
linoleum (Laponia and Dark Bistre)
dimensions variable
edition of 2 + 1AP

Becky Beasley
P.A.N.O.R.A.M.A., 2010
postcard rack, series of 12 postcards

Becky Beasley
(Looking South) ...The Baldwin, U.S. Mint, The Portreros; and Dry Dock in the distance...Calvary Church, 2010
archival print on hahnemühle photo rag baryta
58 × 41,57 cm
edition of 2 + 1AP, plus one edition of 12 images

Becky Beasley
(Looking South by Southwest) ...First Congregational Church, Mechanics Exhibition Pavilion, New City Hall, the Mission; and San Miguel Hills in the distance..., 2010
archival print on hahnemühle photo rag baryta
58 × 41,57 cm
edition of 2 + 1AP, plus one edition of 12 images

Becky Beasley
(Looking Northeast) ...The foreground to the left is known as Chinatown, beyond are the City Hall; Post Office; Custom House; Appraiser’s Store; U.S. Courts; St. Mary’s Cathedral; the San Rafael, Oakland and S.F. & N.P.R.R. Ferries; Goat Island and the long wharf of the C.P.R.R., at Oakland; Mount Diablo is visible in the distance..., 2010
archival print on hahnemühle photo rag baryta
58 × 41,57 cm
edition of 2 + 1AP, plus one edition of 12 images

Becky Beasley
(Looking Southwest) The Denman School House, numerous private residences of our wealthy citizens; the Mission Hills in the Distance, 2010
archival print on hahnemühle photo rag baryta
58 × 41,57 cm
edition of 2 + 1AP, plus one edition of 12 images

Becky Beasley
(Looking North by Northeast) ...Red Rock on the route of the Sacramento River boats; and Contra Costa Hills...St Francis Church...Telegraph Hill, 2010
archival print on hahnemühle photo rag baryta
58 × 41,57 cm
edition of 2 + 1AP, plus one edition of 12 images

Becky Beasley
(Looking Southeast) ...In the central portion are the Occidental, Cosmopolitan, Russ and Lick Hotels, Masonic and Odd Fellows’ Halls,California Theatre, Club Houses and Literary and Art Societies...Grand, Palace and Nuclens Hotels...Jewish Synagogue, Trinity (Church), Union Square...Lon Bridge over Mission Bay..., 2010
archival print on hahnemühle photo rag baryta
58 × 41,57 cm
edition of 2 + 1AP, plus one edition of 12 images

Becky Beasley
(Looking Northwest) ...Russian Hill; Mt. Tamalpais, Sausalito and Richardson Bay in the distance..., 2010
archival print on hahnemühle photo rag baryta
58 × 41,57 cm
edition of 2 + 1AP, plus one edition of 12 images

Becky Beasley
(Looking North) Meigg’s Wharf; Alcatraz Island; Angel Island, 2010
archival print on hahnemühle photo rag baryta
58 × 41,57 cm
edition of 2 + 1AP, plus one edition of 12 images

Becky Beasley
(Looking East) ...the principle banks, Insurance Offices, and large mercantile houses; Merchants and Stock Exchanges..., 2010
archival print on hahnemühle photo rag baryta
58 × 41,57 cm
edition of 2 + 1AP, plus one edition of 12 images

Becky Beasley
(Looking West by Southwest) Lone Mountain, the cemeteries, and the western part of California St..., 2010
archival print on hahnemühle photo rag baryta
58 × 41,57 cm
edition of 2 + 1AP, plus one edition of 12 images

Becky Beasley
(Looking West) In the foreground the residences of D. D. Colton, Charles Crocker, and other prominent citizens, 2010
archival print on hahnemühle photo rag baryta
58 × 41,57 cm
edition of 2 + 1AP, plus one edition of 12 images

Becky Beasley
(Looking West by Northwest) California St Hill and a glimpse of the Golden Gate..., 2010
archival print on hahnemühle photo rag baryta
58 × 41,57 cm
edition of 2 + 1AP, plus one edition of 12 images

Becky Beasley
Lake Erie, 2010
MDF and steel
91 × 30 x 73 cm

Becky Beasley
Lake Huron, 2010
MDF and steel
125 X 100 × 73 cm

Becky Beasley
Lake Michigan, 2010
MDF and steel
155 X 60 × 73 cm

Becky Beasley,
Lake Superior, 2010
MDF and steel
180 X 80 × 73 cm

Becky Beasley
Lake Ontario, 2010
MDF and steel
117 X 28 × 73 cm

“On May 8th (1904), Muybridge died in Kingston while digging the ground for a model of the Great Lakes in his garden.” (1)
Robert Bartlett Haas, 1976

There is an undeniable irony in dropping dead while digging a hole
in the ground. Almost every biography of the 19th century photographer Eadweard Muybridge concludes by mentioning this fact, albeit in a variety of ways . Muybridge had retired and, after an early career
as a bookseller and later on as a successful photographer in the United States, had returned to England, passing his time reading and gardening. Despite the fact that no photographs or conclusive evidence exists to support the Lakes myth, it is almost certain that it is true (2).

Beasley’s works have often dealt with minimal, existential conditions within small, closed environments – the space of a room, a book, a box – presenting them as banal theatres of the human condition. The particular starting point for P.A.N.O.R.A.M.A. is Muybridge’s former garden in Kingston, as it is maintained and adapted
by its current owners. A panoramic series of twelve photographs, Beasley’s first digitally produced colour works, were taken by Beasley in the garden in the
 winter of 2009. Inspired by Muybridge’s seminal 360º panorama of San Francisco (3), her series’ full titles were made by mapping the orientations of descriptions of the views (4) in the panels of Muybridge’s work onto those of the Kingston garden. For Beasley, the overwhelmingly empty centre of a 360º panorama – the original camera position – is suggestive of the missing Lakes project. However, she does not reveal the spatial view of the sequence, but fragments them, revealing their individual frames, highlighting an otherwise invisible, anti-photographic aspect to the panorama: due to being a systematic procedure, the photographer does not frame the individual photographs. The photographs are absolutely equivalent to each other. This fragmenting of a ‘whole’ is central to Beasley’s practice.

Beasley’s work has dealt elsewhere with particular forms of going from one place to another. In 2007, a photo series of small sculptural objects was titled As I Lay Dying, after Faulkner’s novella. It featured minimalist objects crafted in American walnut and black glass, floating in low-key sfumato environments. Beasley’s Malamud series of 2008 opened up an imaginary around a most common object, a wooden plank, bent under the weight of the body.
The pale green linoleum floor work, The Great Lakes, is a further development in Beasley’s research into the garden, and of her interests in pattern, horizontality and threshold spaces. The work alludes to an illusionist portal, a kind of negative, transforming a space through which we pass into one symbolic of our passage to an other- or afterlife. With The Great Lakes Beasley has constructed a space on the hinge of inside and outside, a clean domestic environment that opens up to a heterotopian elsewhere (5).

In the last room is a series of five large, gelatin-silver prints of black, tabular objects. The linoleum floor templates were re-used here to design these metal tables. They were individually photographed from the same distance, rotated at a high angle in front of the camera to produce various views and printed onto matt photo paper at a scale of about 80%. The aerial view that dominated The Great Lakes is gradually turned into an oblique vision from elsewhere. Occasionally the decorative shapes call to mind floral motives, smoke or islands. Beasley’s photographs of the lakes sculptures are at a tipping point, from which Muybridge’s (photographic) project of mapping movement and landscape topples into an alternative state of animation.
Another rotation is to be found in P.A.N.O.R.A.M.A., a revolving rack, filled with postcard versions of the same twelve panoramic views of the garden. The viewer is welcome to take cards away. One could potentially make up the full 360º panorama. This work references not only a Victorian optical toy, the zootrope, but also Duchamp’s bottle-rack ready-made.

Beasley’s visits to the archives and to Muybridge’s garden have fuelled a narrative fantasy about his late sculptural project, allowing her to pair a fiction about him – his gardening project and his death – with a meditation on photography itself. The biographical tale and the reflection on the medium unfold as parallel stories, overlapping not on a symbolic level, but through analogies between technical manipulations, such as scale and projection, wetness and photography, the figure and the ground. Each of these analogies features a movement upon one and the same complex axis of laborious manipulations.

Eadweard Muybridge was born and died in Kingston, England. Shortly before his death, he bequeathed the professional materials in his possession to the forthcoming Kingston Local History Museum archives, where they were Willed to remain in perpetuity. Beasley’s period of research in the archives was commissioned by the Stanley Picker Gallery,
Kingston. A reconfiguration of P.A.N.O.R.A.M.A. will be on view there from November to February under the title 8th May 1904, Kingston. This will be Beasley’s first solo institutional exhibition.

(1) Beasley’s research to trace the origin of the rumour has revealed that writers have invented a variety of verbs to describe his activity ranging from planning or designing, to constructing, building or digging. The only footnoted claim leads only to a ponderous p.s. to a letter in the archives in Kingston: “I have read, somewhere, that he was drawing to scale, a replica of our Great Lakes, at the time of his passing.” (Janet Leigh, 1949).
(2) The artist will be publishing the full findings of her research at a later date.
(3) Panorama expert David Harris wrote that the 1878 panorama "represents one of the supreme conceptual and technical achievements in the history of architectural photography."
(4) These descriptions come from the Haas biography (see above).
(5) Linoleum, a naturally hygenic material, was invented in Staines, England, in 1855. After a period of decline, it is currently having a renaissance due to being 100% renewable.