Beck+Col are an artist duo whose intertwined imaginations spawn marvelous, mannerist monsters. They then build worlds for these queer and regal surrealist beings to inhabit—only to shake it all up with stylish gore. Influenced by everything from gaming to cognitive science and chromatic theory, for Beck+Col the exaggerations and violence operate both as compelling spectacle and as a meta-critique of the extreme decadence of late-stage capitalism. Though ultimately works of performance and filmmaking, along the way, disciplines from couture to music, cinematography, choreography, and special effects come into play—as does a profound ethos of collaboration. Often the films are full of works of mixed media art made by their extended community of adventurous colleagues—and in service of their new work Red Night, the artists have staged an architectural installation at the art room in whose animated, aggressive color story they show clips from the movie among art and artifacts from the films and new work made in response to it.
L.A. WEEKLY: When did you first know you were an artist?
COL: When I was 5-6 I saw my grandmother drawing an amazingly realistic acorn, I was hooked on drawing instantly!
BECK: It clicked for me when we got to perform on the REDCAT stage. Coming down those stairs to fight each other in a pool noodle wrestling ring made it feel real.
What is your short answer to people who ask what your work is about?
BECK+COL: We dress up in elaborate costumes and beat each other up, get in pillow fights with the audience and then spray blood on them from the walls. Sprinkle in some opera and death metal, traditional art stuff. We’re really interested in horror as a guide to understanding and surviving the world we live in.
What would you be doing if you weren’t an artist?
BECK: I always wanted to be a marine biologist when I was a kid; the ocean is still my happy place.
COL: I’ve always liked chemistry, it has some magical creative aspects to it that overlap with the art process.
Did you go to art school? Why/Why not?
COL: I got my MFA from CSULA because I had no idea what was going on in contemporary art.
BECK: I went to CalArts for my MFA to meet other artists who were as weird as we are, and build the network of collaborators we continue to work with today.
Why do you live and work in L.A., and not elsewhere?
COL: Because there’s nowhere better to be.
BECK: I mentioned the ocean already! But we’ve met some incredible people in the L.A. performing arts scene that have solidified this as the place for us.
When was your first show?
BECK+COL: Our friend from Col’s grad program, Lisa Diane Wedgeworth, gave us a chance to perform at her studio/gallery space in 2015. We made 5 simple monster costumes and danced around with our friends.
When is your current show or project?
BECK+COL: Red Night presented by Lauren Powell Projects is currently open at the art room in DTLA is on view through July 28. This exhibition is a collection of works from 10 amazing artists along with costumes, objects, and clips from our forthcoming film Red Night. A catalog launch in tandem with the exhibition and film will take place on Saturday, July 15 (4-7pm) within the exhibition. And at Angel’s Gate Cultural Center we are performing Part Two of our death metal opera, a shadow out of the noise, on July 8. The exhibition installation remains on view through September 9.
What artist living or dead would you most like to show or work with?
BECK+COL: The 10 amazing artists in Red Night! Alicia Piller, Amia Yokoyama, Ching Ching Cheng, Hea-Mi Kim, Jenny Eom, Minga Opazo, Ofelia Marquez, Sapira Cheuk, Tanya Brodsky, Vanessa Holyoak. And also our dear friend who paved the way for what we do—Marnie Weber!
Do you listen to music while you work? If so, what?
BECK+COL: We like to listen to the podcast The Horror Vanguard or throw on some old Italian horror movies in the background. When we really need to get pumped up, it’s definitely the 30-minute remix of the entrance theme for the wrestler Jamie Hayter, Hayter Hits Hard by Mikey Ruckus.
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