Artist Name:

Laurel Beckman

Title of Work:

It’s Stonewall in My Navel

Country: USA
Year: 2016

About This Work

The impulse to daydream (causing impatience or disassociation in 1st part of video) is met with a forbidding twitch towards darkness that denies the benefit of getting lost in your mind. In the video, the navel-gazing subject travels inside and outside her body, where her navel plays host to revelers at Stonehenge and Stonewall. Uncertain histories, monumental status and ritual are teased and morphed between the two sites.

The Stonewall Inn, site of the liminal 1969 Stonewall Rebellion, was a dance bar. Such places concretize dreams and consequences of queer-dom in the 20th century and beyond (see Pulse slaughter, 2016). Stonewall itself is modeled here based on first person accounts of the iconic bar, where against the full-moon early morning hours of June 28, 1969, queers raged against oppression. They threw pennies, bricks, beer bottles, a trash-can, and a parking meter. In the video they, we, and those tools of rebellion dance, affirming that past, present & future, celebration and protest, are not mutually exclusive.

In my work I strive for visual and conceptual richness, pleasure and open curiosity, while privileging uncertainty and humor over conventional narrative approaches. In the video projects stuff happens, and is fully entrance-able through visuals and sound, though outcomes are suspended in favor of layered meaning. There are threads that surface when I consider my work in total. In terms of themes, there are notions that everything is sentient, and increasingly present, that looking closely is the same as or at least parallel with looking loosely – by that I mean that while I am detail oriented, critical and focused, I concurrently consider what I see/feel/think- what there, with, say, the equivalent of seeing a bunny in the clouds. A pretty normal human impulse that is thwarted by a cultural imperative towards conservative ideals of documentary, use, and goodness. I am of the opinion that truth is fugitive and I believe in the power of fiction. I tend towards absurdity and humor as tools in the face of serious themes. Other threads are a poetic approach to our cultural environment, in critique and in appreciation, and an insistence on questioning, given truths and authority: queering cultural assumptions or truths. I’ve been involved in digital technologies as an artist since the late-80s, and feel like the plasticity they offer is perfect for proposing the complexities and nuances involved in the creation of the other. I am a hippy inside and an organized driven person on the outside. My work investigates affect, stage & screen space, science & consciousness; and has screened in festivals, public spaces, museums and galleries throughout the US, and abroad in over 30 countries including Spain, Canada, Italy, Palestine, Australia, France, India, Brazil, Switzerland, Macau, Iran, Peru, China, and the Netherlands. I am a professor of Experimental Video/Animation at the University of California Santa Barbara, USA.

Read an extended interview with Laurel Beckman in Women CineMakers, Special Edition, vol 6.


Shown IRL at

6:30pm Friday 2 February 2018
Federation Square
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31 January - 22 March 2018
RMIT Bld 94 Lv 2 Rm 2, 23-27 Cardigan St, Carlton
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