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Martin Beck

rumors and murmurs

Thursday, March 23, 2017

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From May 6, 2017 will be presentinga one-person exhibition on the work of New York-and Vienna-based artist Martin Beck. Focusing on themes central to Beck’s oeuvre such as display, memory, collectivity, and imaging, the exhibition will bring together selected works from the past ten years with a new body of work produced for the occasion. As strategies of installation and display are central to his practice, Beck will actively engage with the exhibition’s format and layout. The show will be composed of sculptures, photographs, video works, drawings, books as well as spatial interventions into the exhibition space.

One of Beck’s key bodies of work references modern exhibiting systems, specifically taking up the relationships between emancipation and control that they incorporate. 

Another work engaging questions of historicity and display is Beck’s rumors and murmurs (Polygon) (2012). This painting-like fabric element covers a whole exhibition wall and is, simultaneously, an autonomous art work, an architectural intervention, and a functional object. 

While Beck’s art has always exhibited conceptual rigor and an economy of means, his more recent works further integrate the body and affect into his investigations of display. His project, Last Night (2013–), derives from one of the final parties at the seminal New York dance venue The Loft at 99 Prince Street. Key to the project is a book that meticulously lists the specifics of the thirteen hours of music played that night. The book interlaces structure and passion and is a document about an ephemeral space in time of community and emotion. Beck is currently working on a thirteen-hour film about the records documented in the book. The film, titled June 2, 1984, will be a central element of the mumok exhibition. 

rumors and murmurs will also include sets of Beck’s recent body of work titled Flowers (2015) which is composed of photographs showing the assembly and disassembly of a spectacular flower bouquet by an elderly florist. When first shown in New York, Beck combined such sets of Flowers with his stainless steel sculpture, 183✕113 (2014), a blue gradient wall sculpture (All that is left, 2015), and the video work Strategy Notebook (2015) to form an environment that oscillated between elegiac vanitas and corporate bliss. In the mumok exhibition sets of Flowers will be installed to form a guiding path through the exhibition and, at points, will be juxtaposed with 183✕113 and Strategy Notebook.

watching sugar dissolve in a glass of water

May 6, 2017 to January 14 2018

In conjunction with Martin Beck’s own show, mumok is also presenting a new selection and arrangement of works from our collection, curated by Beck himself. His selection focuses on works of the 1960s and 1970s and indicates a number of important influences on Beck’s own artistic work—in art and design, architecture and popular culture.  Abstract and figurative, and conceptual and painterly approaches are presented in often surprising combinations and exciting arrangements. Beck sees these combinations as scenes, in the sense of places where new links are created and surprising conflicts are enacted. The exhibition title, watching sugar dissolve in a glass of water, refers to a process of precise observation and the transformation of aggregate states of affairs.

Martin Beck‘s collection exhibition is closely linked to his own show, rumors and murmurs. The two exhibition designs—on two levels of the museum—are nearly identical, but nonetheless meet different needs within their own specific contexts. While the walls and spatial elements in watching sugar dissolve in a glass of water are used primarily as functional surfaces, in rumors and murmurs the same architecture is used to explore the borders between artworks, presentation structure, and processes of orientation.