Kevin Beasley: Star Material
This young artist is digging deep and stirring things up.
At the end of this past summer, Kevin Beasley was packing up to move to his new studio in Queens. He had just spent nearly a year as an artist in residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem, where his bulky, beaten-up sculptures were lying on the floor. Made by melting together foam, resin, and pieces of his own clothing, the scrappy forms conceal a microphone wired to Moog pedals and speakers. “This might get a little loud,” Beasley, 29, said with a laugh as he flipped one on and began moving and rubbing the work, sending wails and rumbles crackling from the sound system. Moments later, he slipped on a gas mask outfitted with pantyhose and another mic, and things got even more haunting. A longtime musician, Beasley is just two years out of Yale’s MFA program, but his unusual practice, which commingles sound, sculpture, and performance, has already won him slots in a show at New York’s Museum of Modern Art and in the 2014 Whitney Biennial. For the latter, he set up a system to amplify the sounds of visitors and also performed using his makeshift instruments, through which he reimagines how bodies and sculptures can interact. Next up is his first New York solo show, in February, which will inaugurate Casey Kaplan’s new space, and a Guggenheim Museum commission that will expand on the work from the Biennial. “The art objects have a sort of aliveness to them,” he said. “They change the sonics of the room, and it maybe becomes a little more immersive.”