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Austrian artist Martin Beck presents his first major show in France at Frac Lorraine
Martin Beck, Last Night, 2016. Courtesy Martin Beck & 47 Canal, New York.

METZ.- Unfolding as a composition, this exhibition features recent works by the Austrian artist Martin Beck who, at 49 Nord 6 Est–Frac Lorraine, presents his first major show in France.

Works on paper, photographs, sculptures, and videos… the artist chooses his medium depending on the subject matter addressed. Flowers, for example, consists of sets of photographs that document the arrangement of a so-called Dutch flower bouquet. The images reveal both the methodical work of a florist and the fragility of the material she handles. Gestures and forms are gathered in altogether 36 different constellations that do not follow a sequential order.

Temporality is an essential component of Beck’s work. The research supporting the making of his works often spreads over several years before it culminates in a physical manifestation —the first element of Last Night took four years to develop— or is a part of continuous long-term effort —in recent years Beck produced one US letter-size document a day for certain durations, completing each year a new stage of working forwards, a diary-type art work.

In this exhibition, the geological time of conglomerates —sedimentary, instable rocks made up of various clasts that have remained separated despite the passage of millennia— runs alongside regular time, such as the artist’s everyday work, or ephemeral time, such as the music played at the last seminal Loft party at 99 Prince Street in New York in 1984, which brought together diverse communities, revisited in a film that follows its total 13-and-half hour duration.

Dans un second temps brings together, in the space of the exhibition, a selection of Beck’s artworks that take their cues from countercultural narratives, social dynamics, and the forces of labor. While referencing their historical impact, Beck, in the words of critic and artist Yuki Higashino, “explores how to maintain integrity, complexity, and intellectual/aesthetic strength in today’s media-social spaces. In his hands, this involves synthesizing private affections and public knowledge, analytical acuity, and deep emotivity—at once.” At Frac Lorraine, composition is used as a tool to reorganize their underlying social and spatial structures as well as their accompanying hierarchies, be they visual, economic, or community-related.

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