– Spring/Summer 2000

Julie Becker

Peter Wollen

1. A glass helicopter. This is the image that sticks most in my mind. It was made by a glass-blower in Seattle, who made several prototypes before an acceptable helicopter was finally created. In Julie Becker's videotape of the Federal Building we see an actual helicopter which takes off from a launching pad on the roof of the Federal Bank building which she could see from her dismal apartment in Echo Park, a run-down neighbourhood on the edge of downtown Los Angeles.

The helicopter spirals up into the sky in her vision, surrounded by cloud streamers and floating bubbles. To me it seems like a dream-driven escape from the dismal landscape of Echo Park with its crumbling and distorted pavements, its mounds of rubble and its inner-city grunge. As Becker viewed the world from her own depressing and crumbling apartment, the vision of a helicopter, I think, must have seemed like the angelic vision of a martyred saint, a promise that there was a better world out there somewhere.

2. Boxes - specifically refrigerator boxes - play a striking role in Julie Becker's work. In her early piece Researchers, Residents, a Place to Rest, an installation involving a residential hotel, the refrigerator boxes remind the viewer of another type of residential space entirely. As Becker puts it, 'a refrigerator box, in American cities, can be the last refuge of the homeless'. In Anthony Hernández's book of photographs of living spaces of the homeless in Los Angeles, published shortly before Becker began work on her installation, we see numerous photographs of such cardboard-box homes, looking eerily like the boxes in Becker's installations - boxes with 'windows' cut in