James Beckett

My work is mostly anecdotal, with an emphasis on objects of historical significance. One of my main focuses within this practice has been on industrial history, and more importantly industrial decline. I am experimenting with how it can be presented and enacted through tertiary objects, and inevitably how it can be manipulated toward a variety of absurd and confusing fictions. This approach allows for emotive as well as illogical reviews of history, techniques that can in turn reveal more about the complexity of a given situation.

Werkgebied: Beeldend kunstenaar Website: Meer Mentoring


“In our conversations, I would be curious learn of your nature and intentions. What do you make of the way art is going, and how do you plan to affect it? Do you like what you see or do you have ideas for new directions? Hopefully we can form a meaningful relation, and through this develop an informative accompaniment to your practice.”

About James Beckett (1977, Zimbabwe)
“I believe in a high diversity of approach, meaning each project should inform new techniques and sensibilities, the medium naturally following suit. Much inspiration comes from the ‘Pataphysics movement in literature, which was shaped by mathematically orientated authors. The emphasis on structural exercise and ‘constrained-writing’ techniques meant they set parameters to catalyze content, and not directly author it. This process speaks of a reality, yet with a transformation or distortion derivative from the tool itself.

My commissioned work has often found me in the medical sciences, where I have realised projects for the Cancer Research Institute of the Netherlands (NKI), The Erasmus Heritage Collection (Erasmus MC Erfgoed Verzameling), and am currently working with Hawkins/Brown Architects in London on a new centre for womans’ health. In these public contexts, I am interested in presenting obscure subjects on a large scale for people of all walks of life. By extension, this public work leaks back into my personal practice, where I have become quite interested in dentistry, and have launched a three year project to commission dentists to write about their lives. For this book, twenty dentists from an international spectrum are asked to reflect on their practice, showing the diverse contexts under which they have prospered. From Chile to Japan and from Zambia to Finland, this work will present personal accounts to reveal human as well as medical aspects of the profession. In my current work I want to further explore this proximity to reality, utilizing art more as a medium for direct interaction with the world, constantly relating in a reflexive manner.

The art world has become much about individualism and networking, which often compromises the true intent of art. Is relevant art really prospering in these times? As a mentor, the best I can do is be present, listen and to offer guidance based on my experiences. This includes the shaping and placing of work, publishing and exhibiting in both institutional and gallery infrastructures. One of the largest challenges to a young artist within all of this, is to keep motivated and to build confidence. Whilst the organisational side of things is naturally important and something to master – I believe focus on ones’ subject should be at the core of every practice.”

Solo shows in the last two years include Wilfried Lentz, Rotterdam; TWAAS, New York; Blank Projects, Cape Town; Neuer Kunstverein, Vienna; T293, Rome. Recent group exhibitions in 2012 and 2013 include Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridge; Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam; steirische herbst, Graz; De Appel, Amsterdam; Wattis, San Fransisco; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam and Dak’art, African Biennale in Dakar. Beckett’s work has also been shown at GAM in Turin; ICA in London; Romanian Biennial, Bucharest; The Kitchen, New York and the Kölnischer Kunstverein in Cologne. He is a recipient of the Prix de Rome in 2003.