Amanda Beech, contemporary, LA, modernism, sculpture, video

Preview: Sanity Assassin by Amanda Beech

January 23, 2010
Amanda Beech, Sanity Assassin (2009), Installation view. Courtesy of Spike Island. Photo: Stuart Bunce.

Spike Island will hold the first major solo show in a public space for Amanda Beech. The West Country gallery promises a nightmarish trip to America’s West Coast.

Sanity Assassin is a three screen video installation with a sinister sculptural element, a series of chainsaws atop a mirrored plinth. This display, based on a real corporate showroom, was inspired by a visit to LA, where the piece was also filmed.

Footage centres around two very different city residents, a disillusioned European drifter and a spokesman for the new world order. As their stories synchronise to the beat of a noise soundtrack, they ultimately merge with psychotic results.

An interview with photographer Julius Shulman, who shot California architecture, and a text by Theodor Adorno have been worked into the narrative. Equally diverse influences on the film are provided by MTV montage, the title sequences of Saul Bass, film noir and 3D building fly-throughs.

Often thought of as a secluded playground for the rich and famous, Beech gives us a version of LA which is maddeningly claustrophrobic.

But while the work should be highly visceral, it also sets out to examine the theories of so-called ‘exile modernism’ as found in later writings by Adorno, Thomas Mann and Bertolt Brecht.

In 2009 Beech was awarded the main production residency at Spike Island. Sanity Assassin is a new work developed in her time there.

Written for Culture24

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