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James Beckett, Dowsing Schools at Artspace

James Beckett, Dowsing Schools at Artspace



James Beckett (b. Zimbabwe) is an artist, musician and occasional curator currently based in Amsterdam. His research based practice focuses on industrial and other social histories.

Like an archaeologist, the artist excavates material cultures, uncovering objects and ephemera. These ‘poor objects’ are assembled and presented using museological display mechanisms to provide an emotive and illogical review of history.

His exhibition for Artspace, Dowsing Schools: Preliminary Findings and Corresponding Survey Kit, revolves around the metaphor of digging holes to in order to reveal a story. In Auckland he will restage the project ‘Dowsing Schools’ in which he collaborated with two British dowsers, inviting them to Amsterdam to examine the grounds of some local primary and secondary schools.
Dowsing, or water divining, exists at the threshold between science and a pagan ritual; it uses special forked sticks to find structures below the surface, including water, oil, as well as hidden objects.

Beckett’s installation recounts the dowsers’ discoveries through sound. It presents their tool kit including a ‘plane table’, which is an early form of surveying device.

Throughout his projects, Beckett avoids constructing linear historical narratives, preferring instead to open up peripheral readings of historical events by focusing on the objects and artefacts that have been left behind. Through the dowsers’ actions, evocative objects surface, and together with them, memories from an unassuming yet suggestive past.

Jame's Beckett's exhibition open's on Friday May 2 and runs until June 28, 2014.
Please contact media@artspace.org.nz for more details.

Artspace is located at level 1/300 Karangahape Road, Newton, Auckland.

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