Art Basel Unlimited: Bill Beckley

June 13 - 19, 2016

Basel, Switzerland

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Deirdre’s Lip, 1978; Cibachrome photograph

‘Deirdre’s Lip, conceived in 1977 and printed in 1978, is a culmination of my so-called Story or Narrative works of the late sixties. In 1969, I began writing texts and simultaneously imagined images to make works that were both image and text – neither one having precedent over the other. The images do not illustrate the text and the texts do not explain the images – or at least I hope they don’t. They float together in undetermined space and function like a kiss. The Lip is fiction, not a documentation of an act performed elsewhere. With respect to scale, I wanted the piece to have a photographic presence compatible to painting and sculpture of that time. Conceptual art was a refreshing departure from the prison of Minimalism, a movement that many of us escaped from in the very late sixties. But the escape for me was like jumping from frying pan into fire. I was uncomfortable with Minimalism’s regiments and Conceptualism’s self-consciousness, seriousness, and sexlessness. I knew I could not go back to 19th century Romanticism, but I didn’t want to divorce myself from its pathos. A moral of the story, but not the only one: if you want a kiss, it’s good to give some lip.’