Profile: Kevin Beasley (1985-)

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Kevin Beasley is an American artist working in sculpture, performance art, and sound installation. He lives and works in New York City.

Education and early life

Kevin Beasley was born in Lynchburg, Virginia. He received a BFA from the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, Michigan in 2007 and an MFA from Yale in 2012.

Work

Beasley is known for sculpture that incorporates found materials – especially clothing – and casting materials like resin and foam. While these materials cure or set into their final state, Beasley works them with his body, a process that points to his interest in sculpture that traces of the artist’s body while retaining a bodily, fleshy quality of its own. Many of his sculptures also contain audio equipment or are used in sound-based installations or performances.

Performances

Beasley is also known for his performance work, in which he often uses his sculptures to produce live sound. For a performance during the 2014 Whitney Biennial, Beasley “played” several of his sculptures by touching and moving them around the gallery. The sounds made by his body and the materials of the sculptures were captured by microphones embedded in the sculptures and amplified by speakers for the audience. Beasley also performs sound art without sculpture – in 2012 he performed I Want My Spot Back in the Atrium of the Museum of Modern Art – a piece consisting only of a capella clips of deceased 1990’s era rappers, mixed and amplified by Beasley live.

Over the course of his 2018-2019 solo exhibition, “A view of a landscape” at the Whitney Museum, Beasley features live performances with: Taja Cheek , Eli Keszler , Jlin, and himself. The cotton gin serves an instrument in the performances, where artists are able to manipulate and process its sounds into live compositions.

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