Newman Popiashvili Gallery is pleased to present the exhibition, Unforeseen Circumstances, Lauren Beck’s second solo show with the gallery. Beck shows drawings and a video projection guided by a poetic re-thinking of the uses of disaster narrative in contemporary film. As many theorists have observed, films, such as The Day After Tomorrow and Independence Day, employ a romance plot as the central impactive event against the backdrop of worldwide catastrophic devastation. Žižek, for one, conjectures that, if the “imaginary Real” correlates to the horrific stuff of horror films, then the “real Real” can be sensed only as an atmosphere, an affect, or a whiff of the unfathomable. In these works, Beck explores this sense of the penumbra around an event that cannot quite be grasped.
Beck engages with representations of culturally generalized disaster through the lens of beauty and sentimentality. Her 10-minute video piece Wide Sea builds on the 1966 novel Wide Sargasso Sea, by Jean Rhys. Here, Beck meditates on the loss of place and concurrent obsession to return to it, destructive as that fantasy may prove to be. Through the use of saturated color and dense scenic assemblage, contrasted with wrecked landscapes and a contingent approach to character development, Beck questions the capacity of representations to, as Lacan states, “traverse the fantasy.” This is opposed to moving around within it, vis-à-vis the revelatory potential of film.
Unforeseen Circumstances is a collision between Beck’s new drawings and video work,which creates theatrical gestures through installation. The affect is an oscillation between recessive and excessive aesthetics. The drawings, such as Tower, emit an abstract episodic quality, wherein landscape, fragmentary interiors, and text commingle with blurry washes of loose pigment. In contrast, Beck leverages the narrative potential of video to allow access to linear information. Seen as a whole, the works create a cosmology of interrogation, which denies access to narrative continuity and refuses catharsis.
Lauren Beck received her MFA from the University of Chicago in 2012. She lives and works in Chicago.