Known for her drawings, sculpture, and architectural interventions, Beth Campbell creates works that challenge the notion of a physical world beyond our perception. Drawing upon philosophy, phenomenology and psychology, Campbell choreographs spaces, crafts uncanny objects, and maps thought.
In Campbell’s installations and recent sculpture, what appears at first glance to be a facsimile of the everyday will reveal startling complexity: Forms repeat and stutter. Mirrors become portals. Interiority is externalized. The familiar becomes strange. Precisely staged tableaux such as Following Room (2007) confound viewers’ expectations through the careful orchestration of repetition and difference. With works such as Elsewhere (2010) or the Lamps series (2010-ongoing), Campbell collapses the distance between a recognizable world of banal objects and a multiplicity of alternate realities.
Beginning in 1998 the diagrammatic Potential Future Drawings embody Campbell’s interest in giving physical shape to streams of consciousness; each drawing branches out from a single occurrence in her everyday life into a host of outcomes ranging from fantastic to abysmal. The highly subjective, personal voice behind Campbell’s text departs from the taut vocabulary of conceptual art while appropriating its tropes.
Campbell’s mobiles manifest a similar interest in parallel realities. Conceived as ‘drawings in space,’ their abstract forms of bent steel and wire evoke Freud’s neurological diagrams, trees, and circulatory systems, while also serving as speculative visualizations of possibility. The interplay of lines creates an optical interference effect similar to moiré patterns, causing the surrounding space to vibrate and seemingly shift. This visual contrast catalyzes the tension between physical and virtual, ordinary and surreal.
Campbell’s commissioned projects include Following Room at the Whitney Museum of Art (2007) and Following Room (Trento) at Manifesta 7, Trento, Italy (2008); Potential Store Fronts for the Public Art Fund, New York (2007). Recent solo exhibitions include Seomi Gallery, South Korea; Country Club, Chicago; The Sculpture Center, Cleveland OH; Country Club Projects at the Buck House, Los Angeles, and Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery, New York. Other museum exhibitions include the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Carnegie Museum of Art, Greater New York, PS1 Contemporary Art Center, White Columns, the Drawing Room, London, and the Tang Museum, Saratoga Springs NY. Her work is included in collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (2011), a Louis Comfort Tiffany Memorial Fellowship (2009); and a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant (2006). She has been an artist-in-residence at John Michael Kohler Arts Center (2009); the Lower East Side Printshop (2006); and Dieu Donné (2003), among others. Campbell was born in 1971 in Illinois; she lives and works in New York.