Galeria Plan B presents the solo exhibition of Becky Beasley, curated by Mihnea Mircan.
Depressive Alcoholic Mother is permeated by questions of position and reciprocity. The exhibition focuses closely on Beasley’s long-standing fascination with the protocol of the double and with panoramic cycles, articulating mechanisms of interior and exterior spaces that are central to her practice. From the ripples of these movements, a larger concentric circle structuring the show emerges as a choreography of doppelgangers. The exhibition weaves new proximities and distances between different parts of single works, or iterations of works in editions of two.
Works are unpaired and interspersed: neither one added to another, nor one divided into two, but additions of what they do not have in common and subtractions of familiarity, veerings together and apart. Autonomous, involved with and divided by another, these singular elements negotiate a shared groundlessness, or the possibility of a figure profiled against the ground of its double.
Such swirls, gyrations and inflections are the material of Depressive Alcoholic Mother. The title’s words orbit around one other in a hazy biographical permutability. They posit an inscrutable relation where there should have been denotation, indicating what the show might ‘with’ and ‘through’, rather than what it is about. The exhibition composes a polyphony of parts, of repairs played backwards as fractures and wanderings as returns.
Beasley has developed an unorthodox editioning system within her practice, whereby certain works which contain multiple parts are produced in an edition of two. The first of these must remain complete, while the second edition is to be divided into single entities, or into smaller groupings than the first. Thus the work simultaneously exists both as a whole work and a set of autonomous works.
At two points in the exhibition, visitors encounter a hinged black American walnut plank mounted on the wall. These, Brocken (I) and Brocken (II), reproduce the arm span of Beasley’s father, a recurring and variously abstracted protagonist of her work. Brass hinges are fitted where his joints would be. This outstretched gesture – known colloquially as ‘measuring one’s own grave’ – invokes both sheltering and entombment, exactitude and embrace. Brocken is German for ‘scraps’, ‘fragments’ or ‘mottoes’, and this work is a diagram for a body simultaneously extended and collapsed, transcribed as a sinuous line in space or folded upon itself for safekeeping.
‘I wanted to propose something more distancing which is nevertheless very close, too close almost’, the artist wrote, and the present installation of Brocken radicalizes this spatial and phenomenological interest. An abyss of distance closes up on the viewer of the twice-fragmented figure, removed from anatomical referent and from the reciprocal consolidation of its parts. Its membra disjecta are separated across the space of the gallery, or reassembled, at the scale of the room, as its fragile backbone.
Such looping of distances, the inability to determine the positions of objects in space or in relation to their assumed correlates, prompt a consideration of Beasley’s poetics as the re-encoding of vertigo, in forms and their placement. The subject of vertigo inhabits a spinning place, between distances that appear immediate and hard, obstructive, and futures that have become imminent: the perception of ground becoming figure, right up to the retina. Beasley employs vertigo as a continuum between a quasi-body made vertiginous, stretched into its own anamorphosis, and its reconstitution in the corner of the viewer’s eye. Vertigo tangles together pulsating vacancy and manifest incompletion on one hand, and the ‘too close’ and ‘too much’ into which vulnerability can be bent or compressed on the other.