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Ericka Beckman

Ericka Beckman

The Broken Rule

Los Angeles Filmforum is proud to present two screenings with the genre-defying, highly original filmmaker Ericka Beckman. Described as a key figure of the Pictures Generation, Beckman often uses games as structuring devices in films and videos that combine minimalist and punk aesthetics. As Amy Taubin writes: “Milking the Surrealist roots of Pop, Beckman creates brightly colored, psychologically threatening, sexually charged worlds in which her avatars are hurled to and fro, trapped inside a game plan whose rules they desperately try to discern.”

Coinciding with the exhibition Mike Kelley, Ericka Beckman will present three of her works, The Broken Rule (1979) and Cinderella (1986), in which Mike Kelley stars; and Switch Center (2003). Bennett Simpson, MOCA curator, will introduce the program.

“Like primitive cartoons, Beckman’s enigmatic allegories are filled with nervous activity and comic violence, sexual imagery and syncopated energy, perceptual game-playing and ingenious homemade optical effects.” --J. Hoberman, Artforum

Ericka Beckman: Over her three-decade career, Ericka Beckman’s playful yet formally demanding films challenge traditional aesthetic, and cultural values, that mix games with fairytales to create hybrids with new rules. Beckman uses play in every sense to shape her message.    “The result is a ‘satisfying, even delightful slipperiness of meaning, a mental vertigo induced by the changefulness of contexts and rules in regard to a given word or object.”-- Sally Banes, Millenium Film Journal, 1984

            Beckman’s work has been shown at festivals, museums, and galleries around the world.  Her one-woman shows include: the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum, Washington,D.C., and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.  She has been in three Biennials at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.  Amongst the numerous awards received for her work are:  Two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, two New York State Council on the Arts grants, and one from Massachusetts Council on the Arts.  Her works are in the film collection of New York’s Museum of Modern Art, Anthology Film Archives, plus the British Film Institute, as well as  The Walker Art Center Media Collection.

Presented in collaboration with MOCA.

Organized by Madison Brookshire.

Tickets: $12 general admission; $7 students with valid ID

Tickets available at  FREE for MOCA and Los Angeles Filmforum members; must present current membership card to claim free tickets

INFO 213/621-1745 or

The Broken Rule Ericka Beckman

The Broken Rule

The Broken Rule

(1979, Super-8 to 16mm; color, sound; 23 min.)

Produced, directed, shot and edited by Ericka Beckman; Starring: Mike Kelley; Featuring: Jim Casebere, Matt Mullican, James Welling, Jim Isermann, Diane Buckler, Kirby Dick, Tom Radloff, David Fick

The Broken Rule is my reaction to the American education system, where learning blocks must be acquired by the group before any individual can progress to the next level. My film pictures learning blocks as relay races conducted by male players, where the girls are scores, and the goal is to enter the working world by the end of the game. Mike Kelley, the lead player in my film, makes a ritual out of his mistakes to escape the consequences of his mistakes. In this film, one person’s work is another person’s play, and play creates competition, a component of work.” --EB

“Riveting in its choreography of space and rhythm The Broken Rule is a sort of Marxist musical. Oddly suggestive of Tashlin, the film is constructed with the precision of an animated work, and wit the formal humor of a Landow.” --Bruce Jenkins, "New Film/ New York," Media Study Magazine, 1980


(1986, 16mm; color, sound; 30 min.)

Produced, directed, shot and edited by Ericka Beckman; Starring Gigi Kalweit and Mike Kelley; Sound track composed by Brooke Halpin; Vocals by Katy Cavanaugh

Produced with funds from The Jerome Foundation and The New York State Council on the Arts

Cinderella is a musical treatment of the fairy tale. I have broken apart the story and set it as a mechanical game with a series of repetitions where Cinderella is projected back and forth like a ping-pong ball between the hearth and the castle. She never succeeds in satisfying the requirements of the ‘Cinderella Game’.” --EB, 1984

Switch Center

(2002, 16mm; color, sound; 12 min.) 

Shot, Edited and sound design by Ericka Beckman

Produced in collaboration with BALAZS BELA STUDIO, Budapest, Hungary, Artslink, USA, Hungarian Moving Pictures Foundation, Fóvárosi Vizmúvek Rt., Budapest, and Televizija Slovenska, Bratislava, Slovakia

“When I began preparing the film in Budapest in 2000, I found myself surrounded by the remnants of the Soviet’s Modernist Architecture. I was instantly captivated by these buildings not because they were aesthetically appealing, but because they embodied not only their purpose but also the ideology upon which they were built. They were not constructed to last but a few years, but rather to endure through millennia, corresponding to the expected lifespan of the regime. The fact that they still stood – solid, defiant even – while the empire had crumbled into dust, made them all the more appealing to me. I chose an abandoned water purification plant on the outskirts of Budapest as the setting for Switch Center. In conceiving of this film, I was inspired by Leger’s early avant-garde picture, Ballet Mechanique. In my film, the structure itself comes to life through the manipulations of the employees who work inside it. I wanted to make a tribute to the kind of futuristic pragmatism expressed by these buildings that are now being razed to allow space for shopping malls and corporate offices.” --EB, 2002