TAKING STALK

November 2021

FOR MORE THAN FORTY YEARS, Ericka Beckman has coaxed viewers to assume the perspective of a child. Her earliest films, in 8 and 16 mm, featured simple performances, bright geometric shapes, and crude computer graphics layered into staccato vignettes. (Critics such as Sally Banes have likened their looping, repetitive structure to children’s songs.) The camera was her editing tool: Beckman double-exposed the film to alter the tempo and animate the tableau. Rehearsing the dynamic between caregiver and ward, teacher and student, these early, small-gauge works complement pieces such as Joan Jonas’s The Juniper Tree, 1976, or the educational complex of the filmmaker’s frequent collaborator Mike Kelley. 

Beckman spent the 1970s between Los Angeles and New York, simultaneously earning an MA from the California Institute of the Arts and completing the Whitney Independent Study Program.

— Piper Marshall

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