Bekí Basch is an interdisciplinary artist who creates objects and experiential installations in the context of field research and ruminations on psychospirituality. Using a vocabulary associated with simulated environments and curated experiences (museums, aquariums, ice rinks, dioramas, artifacts), she draws together personally resonant and ostensibly disparate elements to express a new narrative of interconnectivity and possibility.
Her work has been exhibited in the US and… more
An Unfaithable Shake
A totem of blue sculpted self-help appliances reaches up over an isolated rock— a fragment of some place. A felted puffin protrudes from the top, being consumed by the amorphous mass.
Stage right hangs a relief depicting puffin/humans engaging in a brawl on a duck boat while others float above in a communal dance.
This installation in the window space of Resort Gallery in downtown Baltimore reflects on the simulated environments of aquarium habitats and natural history dioramas. The awkward yet representational forms, narrative bas relief, recycled materials, intimate familiarity of things, and cool blue luminescence; work to create an imagined landscape.
My own romantic view of Iceland comes in and out of focus as I analyze a personal fascination with this country through other’s experiences. There are those who initially settled the island looking for certain freedoms; inhabitants who then moved on for something else; and those who returned again and again, as visitors, as if they were trying to remember a dream. I am interested in the monomythic qualities of these journeys as a structure that qualifies them as being fundamentally the same.
Paradise Reclaimed uses the value of material to tell a story on a path through time and space. Independent elements employ visual and physical cues that unify the installation into an ever-unfolding constellation of connections between Iceland and America, the sacred and the profane, the ordinary world and the holy land.
Paradise ReclaimedRoadside Iceland, 2018
Emigrant, Pioneers, Ancestors, Tourists, 2018
Master of Two Worlds, 2018
Each component part of the Paradise Reclaimed installation is a separate named entity, yet a contextual partner which reflects everything around it. On the floor are birds (Emigrants, Pioneers, Ancestors, Tourists) which are needle felted from Icelandic sheep's wool collected from Heimaey and sent from Utah. The value in the material connects to a moment in history when emigrants travelled from Heimaey to Utah as American pioneers of the Great West.
The blue rock next to them (Roadside Iceland) is a physically obese and comically supernatural homage to roadside American culture set on the newer stage of Iceland, which has seen a critical surge of tourists in the past decade looking to experience natural beauty, but at a cost to the environment. This foam sculpture was left outside for months for birds to defecate on it.
Paradise Reclaimed7th Handcart Company, 2018
One of two sculptures made up of layers of junkyard detritus, carpet underlay, salt, sand, and driftwood. The 7th Handcart Company was a caravan of primarilyIcelandic pioneers from the mid 1800's who pushed handcarts across the midwest to arrive in Utah on the promise of a new land, new life and new religion.
Paradise ReclaimedMajestic Mountain, 2018
A large ominous photograph is printed on semi-transparent fabric so that it can be viewed from both sides. The sheer fabric contrasts the mountain's physical presence. The photo taken is of a salt storage facility in downtown Baltimore, though the title suggests the Paramount Pictures logo (theorized to have been modeled after Utah's Ben Lomond) or perhaps a glacier in Iceland.
Mundi/Bird and Jökulsárlón/Mound are images from Iceland and Baltimore placed side by side to form a self-reflexive contextual relationship. Thinking of Iceland as the source and Baltimore as a surrogate, I look for moments that recall a fully formed flicker of memory that allow me to inhabit both spaces at once. Referred to as ‘The Master of Two Worlds’ in Joseph Campbell’s writing about the universal hero’s journey— this moment in both spaces gives one the ability to harness a powerful energy procured from a great quest, while living in the ‘ordinary world’. The two images from Iceland are crisp and unfettered in their nature, while the Baltimore compositions possess an inherent distance, determined by one’s physical inability (restricted access) to get close.
Parallels (Retail) is a sculptural installation that references ‘art’ in retail situations and the fetishization of survivalist gear. The drawstring backpack was chosen as design contrary to the hard-wearing durational comfort of a backpacker’s bag, as these pieces are imagined as prototypes of an alternative brand to Iceland’s well-known, expensive and rugged 66° North. 39° North represents Baltimore’s geographic parallel, and the black trash bag/drawstring backpack more commonly found in an urban setting reflects survival and style in a culture with different values and priorities.
Inkjet prints on stainless steel
14" x 17"
The series REAPER represents an array of objects (including a dead puffin, car parts, organic matter, packing material and leather) arranged on a flat surface and photographed from above. The items selected for each composition represent contrasting qualities of physical texture and cultural value, which are pushed into the abstract realm as the photographic process blurs their defined boundaries and flattens their tactility. Ideas of value shift as the cheap poses for luxury and the natural becomes grotesque.
Vision Quest Lundi: Flush/Flood
Clay animation, burlap, cat litter, water, toilet, rubber, tape, iron, incense, inkjet prints on paper
Vision Quest Lundi: Flush/Flood is the second installment in the ongoing Vision Quest Lundi series, which is a wide-reaching narrative journey through marked stages of the ‘monomyth' (one true story) as detailed by the late Joseph Campbell. Vision Quest Lundi builds the framework for myth from facets of history, culture, religion and academics— accessing the spiritual qualities of disparately connected moments and placing them accordingly to function within a new system.
Vision Quest Lundi: Flush/Flood lies between two major points on a hypothetical map for the monomyth: the point where one looks outward for meaning (a person on some physical or mental precipice) and the following stage where one looks inward. These may present themselves metaphorically as a pier and a cave. Focusing on the high-intensity, circuitous movement in Formula 1 racing and the collective heart-pounding beat of Japanese drumming, this exhibition and performance express the possibility of physically progressing to the next stages by way of a meditative transcendence achieved through these activities. Rather than a clear and direct path, one exists between two spaces and finds balance which leads to transformation through repetition.
FLOODMarker and paint on burlap.
FLUSH and FLOOD are complementary. As a pier (which juts out into the water) is complementary from a cave (which can accept a flow of water into itself), our bodies breathe in and breathe out. We flood with air, and flush carbon dioxide. These complementary situations are the rhythms that underscore everything. This flag is the emblem for 'FLOOD'.
FLUSHMarker and paint on burlap.
FLUSH and FLOOD are complementary. As a pier (which juts out into the water) is complementary from a cave (which can accept a flow of water into itself), our bodies breathe in and breathe out. We flood with air, and flush carbon dioxide. These complementary situations are the rhythms that underscore everything. This flag is the emblem for 'FLUSH'.
Automated Physiology = Situation for TranscendenceRubberized paint, foam, cardboard, cotton, wood, rubberized toilet, submersible pump, rubber mouth nozzle, vinyl tubing, cat litter.
In the sport of F1, a driver is not alone in their decision-making. An entire support team of highly knowledgeable and specialized professionals guide the process, well beyond the mere construction of the vehicle. A driver is yet another member of the team who is in charge of the human element. They are physically fit, mentally adept and meet other important qualifications. Every circuit Formula races on is different from the next. A driver must practice and memorize the layout in order to find their most efficient path and vehicle handling. This memorization and the eventual repetitiveness of the race itself, becomes fused into muscle memory. Drivers have described this experience as meditative— sometimes even an out-of-body-experience when one's physical self is so in tune with their mind, that the connection allows one to break free from their earthly presence. Because the races are long and demanding, drivers hydrate via a tube connected to their helmet and a bladder within the cockpit. If, however, they need to relieve themselves, they are left to their own devices and will urinate without stopping.
This to-scale model of the body of an F1 car is fitted with a toilet cockpit and a submersible pump, flooding and flushing water through an internal system continuously.
Tools for Communal TranscendencePolyester, embroidery, PVC, tires, masking tape, packing tape, duct tape, steel, plastic.
Cost-effective taiko practice drums are often made from car tires with packing tape wrapped tightly around to make a thumping hollow space. Single tires make nagado daiko, a sandwich of four tires make an o daiko and a wood block acts as a shime daiko. Backpacks and sling bags resembling both musical instrument transport luggage and spare tire covers are fashioned from strong utility fabrics. The backpacks that hold the nagado daiko are lined with mylar padding, reminiscent of spare tire warmers used in Formula 1. During the exhibition, a local all-women drum group follows a score like a memorized narrative.
Yuru-chara incense holderCast iron on figurine mirror base.
Inspired by Japanese mascots for products, campaigns and prefectures, this character is modeled after a Formula 1 racing tire and a Playmobil figurine, with the face of Sanrio's Rilakkuma. Its name is 'Taiya no tatsujin', which translates to 'tire master' and is borrowed from the Japanese claymation 'Taiko no tatsujin'— a claymation series about talking taiko drums. This iron cast was modeled first as a 3d print to precisely mimic those borrowed styles. Each hand has a hole in the palm, passing through into the arm so that the figure can hold two incense sticks at one time.
Transformation Through RepetitionClaymation on vintage SONY television.
This claymation is the origin story of the Flush/Flood mascot Taiya no tatsujin. A racecar goes around and around the track repetitively and from this energy sprouts a little tire god from one of the front wheels. The arms of the god jut out, causing the car to veer off track and crash into a concrete wall. The tire rolls off and smiles contentedly. He is a little trickster.
Borrowing from the Japanese claymation (based off a video game) 'Taiko no tatsujin' and Matthew Barney's Cremaster 4, this short lo-fi animation uses the universal concept of an 'origin story' to build value around a figure that ties into a larger myth. The kawaii cuteness of the character and the seemingly amoral logic of the story is an outsider interpretation of Japanese animation— a kind of fan fiction.
F/F Circuit PosterInkjet print on paper.
This fantasy F1 circuit is based on a bisected version of a map of the monomyth. The place which is mapped— also a creation of fantasy— functions as a stage for the hero's quest. Here, the outline of the map is imagined as a racetrack, as the hero drives their racecar through each checkpoint in order to receive/achieve the progress points, like a video game.
Constant Radius Corner PosterInkjet print on paper.
Named after a type of curve in an F1 track, these two constant radius corners are magnified in a separate details poster to hi-light the two stops of the hero's path that FLUSH/FLOOD oscillates between. As the driver goes around and around the track continuously, they hug the curves that geographically represent a pier and a cave. Opposite in their exterior/interior nature— the pier is a place from which to look out at the sea to the great beyond, while the cave is a space of natural deprivation, where one can be left alone with their thoughts. The F/F Circuit puts a visual to the mental meditative space of the racecar driver.
Souvenir ShopWood, pegboard, canvas, concrete, paper, plastic, balloons, drawings on tea-dyed paper
The souvenir shop was an actual small shop functioning for the duration of this exhibition. The shop sold thoughtfully handmade paraphernalia related to the exhibition, including incense holders, stress relievers, rice sprinkles, float vials, tote bags and traditional Japanese tenugui.
Vision Quest Lundi: Baltimore
Vision Quest Lundi: Baltimore is a film, an exhibition, and a book that stem from the same narrative. Two characters participate in a ritual that is reminiscent of marriage, but draws imagery and action from diverse cultures which customizes the conditions of their communion. Religion, athletics, biography, art history and local Baltimore artists, are borrowed for their existing logic to assist in actions of joining and separating.
This project is the first in a series of works that travel the path of the ‘monomyth’, as detailed by Joseph Campbell.
Vision Quest Lundi: BaltimoreA Baltimore love story. Beginning with a bicycle processional, two lovers are set on a pre-determined course. Puffins swim under ice as the lovers are put through a ritual of pulling church-like pulpits across an ice rink as camo-wearing onlookers eagerly await. The master of ceremony steps in and joins the lovers and just as soon, the audience storms the ice and breaks it apart. The lovers are zipped up in body bags and sent to sea by way of the Inner Harbor.
Burial Mound at the Mimi DiPietro Ice RinkVision Quest Lundi: Baltimore exhibition at the Open Space Gallery in Baltimore, MD. The first room is the installation Burial Mound at the Mimi DiPietro Ice Rink and the second room is a screening of the Vision Quest film. Materials drawn from the film create a sculptural interpretation that extends the spatial, spiritual, and psychological implications of the narrative.