James Beckett (ZA/NL)

7/ 10/ 1977, Harare, Zimbabwe
Currently based in New York City, US and Amsterdam, The Netherlands


Beckett’s research-based practice explores overlooked histories concerned with industrial development and the built environment. His resulting installations and works for public space deal with cultural signs that shape our experience in the modern era.


Key in Beckett’s work, is the focus on the physicality of historically-laden objects. Through anecdotal accounts of little-known artists, inventors and workers, he shapes a romantic reading of peripheral historical eves. His approach considers proximity – how close is one able to come to a given subject through tertiary bodies, and what are the implications of their given traces? In the amassing of his own collections, and working with those of museums, Beckett activates objects in order to unpack their abstract and metaphysical potential, often employing the absurd and uncanny to form new perspectives on formative events.


An obscure associative logic is key to Beckett’s visual language, which often uses a strict formalism that reflects museological convention and design. This involves craft-like assembly, placing the work uncomfortably between bourgeois decorative art and crude social reality. His work entertains history in a state of constant re-interpretation, and portrays a world where anomaly and change are fundamental.


James Beckett is in residency at the ISCP, NYC, 2020/2021 and has exhibited at the Belgian Pavilion of the Venice Biennale 2015; MAAT, Lisbon 2017; MCAD Manila 2017, The Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam 2012, amongst others. His work is represented by galleries: T293, Rome; Wilfried Lentz, Rotterdam and
 Markus Lüttgen, Dusseldorf.


Beckett was resident at the Rijksakademie (2001-2002) after which he won the Prix de Rome for Art in Public Space. His works are in the public collections of the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and Centre Pompidou, Paris, amongst others.

James Beckett (ZA/NL)

7/ 10/ 1977, Harare, Zimbabwe

Currently lives and works in Amsterdam, The Netherlands


Education/ Residency:

2019: ISCP, NYC, US

2018: FLACC, Genk, BE

2013 Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridge, UK

2009 Kunstlerhauser Worpswede, Sound residency, DE

2008 International Residence, Récollets, Paris, FR

2001-2002 Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten, Amsterdam, NL

1996-1999 Technikon Natal, BAFA (degree), Durban, ZA



2003 Winner Prix de Rome, Art and Public Space, NL

1999 Emma-Smith scholarship, Durban, ZA


Public Collections:

Centre Pompidou, Paris FR

Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, NL


Solo exhibition (selection):

2020 ‘The Sceptical Structures of Max’, T293, Rome, IT

2019 ‘The Sceptical Structures of Max’, Cityscapes, Amsterdam, NL

2019 ‘Strange Glow’, Wilfried Lentz, Rotterdam, NL

2017 ‘Cray Extensions’, Wilfried Lenz, Rotterdam, NL

2016 ‘Guinness Curse’, T293, Rome, IT

2016 Hospice: Collaboration Artun Arasli, Wilfried Lentz, Rotterdam

2015 Hospice: Collaboration Artun Arasli, Markus Lüttgen Gallery, Koln, DE

2014 ‘KaVo Zahnarztstuhl Regie 1520 A’, Wilfried Lentz, Rotterdam, NL

2014 ‘Dowsing Schools’, Artspace, Aukland/ Physics Room, Christchurch, NZ

2014 ‘Forced readings’, Lookout, Aldeburgh, UK

2013 ‘Passionate Advocate for a Poisoned Earth’, TWAAS, New York, US

2013 That’s That, That Way ‘Round, Basically -, Coffrefort, Brussels, BE

2012 ‘Of Animal and Inventory’, Blank Projects, Cape Town, ZA

2012 Door and Milk Permutations, Lüttgenmeijer, Berlin, DE

2011 My Friend Andre’s Grandmother’s Sawmill, Neuer Kunstverein, Vienna, AT

2011 Khevsurvite Derivative (potential dwellers in ravines), T293, Rome, IT

2010 Pairs and Stacks, Hilversum Museum, Hilversum, NL

2010 Zaklady na Zycie (Plant-Life): Wilfried Lentz, Rotterdam, NL

2009 Bagnoli and Italsider (as extract-arrangement), T293, Naples, IT

2008 Limburgerhof (agricultural extract-arrangements), Wilfried Lentz, NL

2008 Dalmine (and other industry extract-arrangements), Lüttgenmeijer, DE

2008 Spade Scrapes 1-6, Van Zijll Langhout expositities, Amsterdam, NL

2007 Living Registration, T293, Naples, IT

2006 Living Registration, Bürofriedrich, Berlin, DE

2006 Untitled Cut-up, Natal Society of Arts, Durban, ZA

2003 Climb on Shoulders to Peep Over and Dismount with Lips in Hedge,

NICC at the Koninklijk Museum Voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp, BE

2002 Extract-Arrangements, PLUS Gallery, Düsseldorf, DE

1999 Home, Natal Society of Arts, Durban, ZA

1999 Breathing Space, The Yard, B/W Photography, London, UK

1999 Breathing Space, Natal Society of Arts/ Palmer street studios, Durban, ZA


Group Exhibition/ (selection):

2020 Spatial Bias, Lesage, Auderghem, BE

2019 Now is the Time, Wuzhen, CN

2018 The Assassination of Leon Trotsky, David Lewis Gallery, NYC, US

2018 Revolutionize!, Mystetski Arsenal, Kyiv, UA

2018 1st Riga Biennial, Riga, LV

2017 The World is Flat, MCAD, Manila, PH

2017 1st Karachi Biennial, PK

2017 Survival Guide, Art Gallery of Alberta, CA

2017 Utopia/Dystopia, MAAT, Museum of Art, Architecture, Tech Lisbon, PT

2017 Structured Frustrations, Isfahan, IRN

2015 56th Venice Bienalle, Belgium Pavilion, IT

2015 5th Thessaloniki Bienalle, Thessaloniki, GR

2014 Nogueras Blanchard, Madrid, ES

2013 Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam, Scenographies, NL

2013 Der Steirische Herbst, Liquid Assets, Graz, AT

2013 De Hallen, Dread, Haarlem, NL

2013 De Appel, Amsterdam, Artificial Amsterdam, NL

2013 Celluloid Brushes, Ludlow 38, NYC

2012 ‘to scrap a proportion’, Wilfried Lentz, Rotterdam

2012 Beyond Imagination, Stedelijk Museum, Amstedam, NL

2012 When Attitudes Became Form Become…, CCA Wattis, San F., USA

2012 Dak’art, African Biennale, Dakar, SG

2011 Section Folklorique, Zeeuws Museum, Middelburg, NL

2011 La Fabrique Sonore, Domain Pommery, Reims, FR

2011 Civic Virtue, Stadtgallerie Villa Dessauer, Bamberg, DE

2011 XV Unidentified Species, Galleria Boavista, Lisbon, PT

2011 New Existentialism, Part 2, ALTEFABRIK, Rapperswil-Jona, CH

2010 Metmorphosis, Allard Pierson Museum, Amsterdam, NL

2010 Doodgewoon, Hilversum Museum, Hilversum, NL

2010 Tutta la memoria del mondo, GAM, Turin, IT

2009 Not created by a Human Hand, Wilfried Lentz, Rotterdam, NL

2009 Faux Frères, Galerie In Situ, Aalst, BE

2009 Straat van Scuptuuren, CBK, Biljmer, Amsterdam, NL

2008 Spades Scrapes 1-6, Romanian Biennial of Young Artists, Bucharest, RO

2008 For the First and the Second Time, CAC, Vilnius, LT

2007 Between Thought and Sound, The Kitchen, New York, US

2007 Sites and Traces, Universal Studios/ Boers-Li, Beijing, CN

2007 Museum of Noise, with Mark Bain, Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne, DE

2007 Return of the Gastarbeiter, Kucevo, YU

2006 Vacuum 2, Façade piece for VHDG, Leeuwarden, NL

2005 Map to Sine, at Adam, SMART Project Space, Amsterdam, NL

2005 Radio Days, four radio programs at De Appel, Amsterdam, NL

2005 Pioneer, (premiere screening of) Dutch Open, De Balie, Amsterdam, NL

2005 Low Tech, Arte Arti Et Amicitiae, Amsterdam, NL

2004 Hit and Run, Platform Garanti and Smart Project Space, Istanbul, TR

2004 Values, 11th Serbian Biennale Visual Arts, Pancevo, YU

2004 City/Object Observation, Nanjing Art Institute, with DAI, Nanjing, CN

2003 Vacuum, Opkomst Yaarbeurs, Utrecht, NL

2003 A Partial Museum of Noise, Prix de Rome, Gem, Den Haag, NL

2003 Death Emmaus-Ölberg-Gemeinde, Berlin, DE

2002 Rendevous, Centre for Contemporary European Art, Xiamen, CN

2002 Documenta 11, collaboration Narcisse Tordoir/ Meschac Gaba, Kassel, DE

2002 Bessengue City, temporary radio station, Doula, CM

2002 Filiale Afrika, Spar Kassa, Düsseldorf, DE

2002 Noise of Coincidence, Cucosa Contemporary Art Space, Rotterdam, NL

2002 A Haunted house of Art, Outline Project Space, Amsterdam, NL

2001 Home Made, Stichting V/H de Gemeente, Leeuwarden, NL

2001 Karl Hofer Society, with Khwezi Gule and Robin Rhode, Berlin, DE

2001 CLICK, Centre Soeleil d’Afrique, Bamako, ML

2001 Adrift, Las Palmas, Rotterdam, NL

2000 Pulse, NSA, Rijksakademie R.A.I.N., Durban, ZA

1999 Graduates of Natal Tech., Civic Centre, Johannesburg, ZA

1998 Black and Blue, Palmer Street Studios, Durban, ZA

1997 ‘Stel Hotten Totten…’ Sandberg Institute, Bat Centre, Durban ZA


Concert/ Performance/ Workshops

2009 Calling out of Context, three concerts of Beckett, ICA, London, GB

2009 Pecha Kucha, Architecture Biennale, NAI, Rotterdam, NL

2007 Circalles, Stage and Light with Martijn Tellinga, Huis ad Werf, Utrecht, NL

2006 Lucier in Taiwan, concept and leader of sound workshop, Taipei, TW

2006 Loss of meaning in Language, Delft Architecture Dept. Delft, NL

2005 Practicum 05a/06a, Nadine Project Space, Brussels, BE

2004 City/Object, Nanjing University, lecture /sound work shop, Nanjing, CN

2003 Schoenberg /Gamelan imposition, concert, Baby, Amsterdam, NL

2003 Fridge, Lost and Found, concert, Amsterdam, NL

2003 Netherlands Architecture Institute, concert, Rotterdam, NL

2002 International Art practice, seminar, Alliance Francais, Yaoudé, CM

2002 Monoculture, Stubnitz.nl/NDSM-WERF, concert, Amsterdam, NL

2002 Mantra for Motors, concert, Rijksakademie, Amsterdam, NL

2002 Muntplein, concert, Muntplein, Amsterdam, NL

1999 Salt, performance, National Art Gallery, Durban, ZA


2016 – 2020: Mondriaan foundation Mentoring program
2016 – 2020: B.E.A.R, Bachelor Fine Art Artez, Tutor, Arnhem
2020 – Sandberg Masters, Studio for Immediate Spaces, Amsterdam, guest mentor
2016 – 2020: Sandberg Masters, Fine Art, Amsterdam, external moderator
2015 – 2016: Master/Apprentice – “Day of the Young Artist”, De Pont, Tilburg,
2015 – 2016: Royal Academy of Art, The Hague, Master Artistic Research, Guest tutor
2015 – Het Instituut, Amsterdam, Guest tutor
2013 – 2016: Rietveld Akademie, Amsterdam, Guest lecturer/tutor
2003 – 2007: Dutch Art Institute, Masters Program, Enschede, Guest tutor/lecturer/workshops


Curated Exhibitions

2013 ‘to scrap a proportion’, Wilfried Lentz, Rotterdam, NL

2012 This Mortal Coil, at the Taut and Tame, Berlin, DE

2007 Here as the Centre of the World, with the Dutch Art Institute,

50 artists: Netherlands, Turkey, Taiwan, Syria, Lebanon, Sudan, Enschede, NL

2007 Sirens, 66-East, Amsterdam, NL

2006 Lucier in Taiwan, Artists from the Netherlands and Taiwan, TW

1997 Thirty Seven Songs, 37 local artists, Durban, ZA



2013 Monograph: ‘James Beckett, with constant interjections by Frank Key’

2009 Monograph: James Beckett 1998- 2008, DE

2009 Transcriptons 1-6, James Beckett, DE

2007 Museum of Noise, Mark Bain and James Beckett, Köln, DE

2007 A-for Alibi, Uqbar foundation, De Appel, Amsterdam, NL

2007 Sirens, Catalogue of the exhibition, Amsterdam, NL

2005 Radiodays, Stichtung De Appel, Amsterdam, NL

2005 Open, SKOR, Amsterdam Amsterdam, NL

2004 Hit and Run, Smart projects in Istanbul Istanbul, Turkey

2004 Values, Catalogue, 11th Serbian Bianale Pancevo, Serbia

2004 Very Real Time, initiation of Gregg Smith, RAIN, Cape Town, ZA

2003 A Partial Museum of Noise, Catalogue 06, Will Holder, Amsterdam, NL

2003 Prix de Rome, Sculpture, Art and Public Space, catalogue Amsterdam, NL

2001 Home Made, Stichting V/H de Gemeente, Leeuwarden, NL

2000 Pulse, initiation of Greg Streak, RAIN, Durban, ZA


Articles/ Review (Selection)

2020 video interview – “Hello”, with Adam Carr, collecteurs.com
2019 review, ‘Zeker Niet Taai’ – Het Parool
2018 interview, ‘Dream Big, See it Fail, Repeat’ – artterritory.com
2018 review mention, ‘Mystetskyi Arsenal’ – eflux.com
2017 review mention, ‘Ceci N’est’ – The Wall Street Journal
2018 interview, CCQ magazine
2015 review, ‘pavilion reveals “civil” future’ – Macao Times
2015 review, Venice Biennial, Mousse Magazine
2015 review, Venice Biennial, Metropolis M, Magazine
2013 review mention, ‘A Light Hand’ – New York Times
2011 review, History Maker, Metropolis-M, Alexander Mayhew
2008 review, Dalmine, Art-Review, Astrid Mania, International
2008 review, Limburgerhof, Kunstbeeld, NL
2007 review, Living Registration, Art Forum, Eugineo Viola, IT
2006 review, Living Registration, Vonhundert Berlin, Astrid Mania, DE
2006 review, Living Registration, Zitty, city guide Berlin, DE
2006 review, Museum of Noise, Roland Schappert Kunst forum, DE
2006 review, Nebenwirkungen, Koelischer Rundschau, DE
2006 review, Das Brummen von 220 Volt, Koelner Stadanzeiger, DE
2006 review, Hiding in plain View, Mail and Guardian, Alex Sudheim, ZA
2006 review, Untitled Cut-up, artthrob, Dean Henning, ZA
2003 article, Prix De Rome, Ina Boiten, Art and Public Space, NL
2003 articles, Mark Kremer and Ansuya Blom, NICC, Antwerp, BE
2003 review, Beeldende Beckett, Scherpa, Daily Paper, Antwerpen, BE