Ericka Beckman, Switch Center 2003 Film still
Ericka Beckman, Switch Center 2003
Film still

Cinderella USA 1986, 16 mm, 30 min

Switch Center USA, 2003, 16 mm, 12 min

Hiatus USA 1999, 16 mm, 30 min

In these three 16 mm films Beckman creates a female protagonist whose quests for freedom are challenged by different obstacles. The narratives of each work are structured like video game levels, where false moves or slight mistakes automatically redirect the player-protagonist back to level one. In Cinderella 1986, featuring Mike Kelley and Gigi Kalweit, Beckman subjects this familiar character to the same social and financial obstacles as the original, this time trying to overcome them within the architecture of an early virtual reality game. In Switch Center 2003 an abandoned water purification centre on the outskirts of Budapest becomes the set in which a female protagonist must ascend the various architectural levels, in a film inspired by Fernand Léger and Dudley Murphy’s Ballet Mécanique (1923–4). Finally, in Hiatus 1999, a character called ‘Madi’, powered by her ‘computer corset’ and motivated into action by her alter-ego cowgirl ‘Wanda’, learns to fight her ground in a cyber-territory battle against ‘Wang’, an aggressive and deceptive internet mogul.

The screening will be followed by a discussion with the artist about the common themes running through her works.

Programme duration 75 min

This screening is followed by a discussion with the artist, curator Isobel Harbison and writer Nina Power exploring the themes running through Beckman’s work.

Nina Power

teaches Philosophy at the University of Roehampton and Critical Writing in Art & Design at the RCA. She has written widely on politics, philosophy and culture.

Isobel Harbison

is a writer and curator based in London. Harbison contributes to frieze, Kaleidoscope, Cura, Modern Painters and Tate Etc, among other magazines, catalogues and publications. Her recent curatorial projects include Or Tears, Of Course, a solo show by Ed Atkins, and Entrance, Entrance, a group exhibition; both at Temple Bar Gallery, Dublin. She is curating a forthcoming group exhibition with Hayward Touring, provisionally titled Pre-Pop to Post-Human: Collage in the Digital Age (2014). Harbison is an AHRC doctoral candidate in the Art Department, Goldsmiths, London.