Since 1990 Swiss-born artist Beat Streuli (b. 1957) has developed a substantial and impressive body of work in photography and video that documents the mundane, transient pedestrian activity of urban life. Streuli, whose work has, remarkably, never been seen in Los Angeles, will show a two-channel black-and-white video projection shot on Venice Beach along with a new window installation that consists of a composite of images shot here in Hollywood. Organized by Irene Tsatsos, this exhibition at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, along with a counterpart show of Streuli’s photography at Roberts & Tilton, will introduce to Los Angeles audiences not only this important international artist but an entirely new body of work inspired by and shot in the city in which it will debut.
Streuli’s images of people moving through and among each other, each alone yet among the other, blur a line between portraying anonymity and individuality. Streuli’s art is fuelled by his interest in the movements of people in large cities—in the way individuals exist in moments, composing a flow of humanity. He ponders urban situations, their delights and disappointments, their countless psychological states and social networks. The dramatically-slowed video images, which represent an ever-changing sea of pedestrians—bodies and faces navigating through a given city—offer a moving social portrait of contemporary society.
Through his imagery Streuli submerges himself in the crowd, while preserving some detachment from passers-by. Rather than enter a personal relationship with his subjects, Streuli instead documents them anonymously in their natural, unguarded state. He manages to highlight not people’s awkward failures of composure but rather their graceful normality. His pictures consciously evoke a hint of voyeurism—Streuli sees without being seen, and paradoxically and artfully, manages to engage an empathetic response. It is the greatness of mundane intimacy between people that Streuli stresses, the bits of joy in the commonplace.
Beat Streuli currently resides in Düsseldorf and has exhibited widely throughout the world since 1990. A few of his many solo shows recently occurred at the Palais de Tokyo, the Stedelijk Museum, Galerie Hauser Wirth und Presenhuber in Zürich, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. Streuli’s work has appeared in dozens of group shows such as Outlook in Athens; Open City: Aspects of Street Photography 1950-2000 which traveled from the Museum of Modern Art in Oxford, England to multiple venues including Museo de Belles Artes de Bilbao, Spain and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the 1997 Johannesburg Bienniale; a/drift at Bard College in 1996; and the Kwangju Biennial in Korea in 1995. ex