Born in Harare, Zimbabwe in 1977. Lives and works in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
James Beckett’s installation and public art works examine disparate subjects of a historical nature, from the development and demise of European industry, to the more metaphysical practices of dowsing and voodoo. Often using biography and actual artefact/found object to probe these subjects, he believes in art’s ability to navigate and connect diverse disciplines in alternative, productive manner. Whilst enacting the formal and rational aspects of museum conventions, his concepts favour a contrasting obscure and rambling logic - reflecting a world where anomaly and change are fundamentals. Early 20th century and industrial crafts play an important role in his aesthetic, placing the work uncomfortably in a bourgeois decorative context, and in doing so highlighting the current state of class difference.
Beckett is a tutor at various schools around the Netherlands. Following a residency at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten (2001–02) he won the Prix de Rome Art & Public Space in 2003. Further residencies include: Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridge; Centre International Des Récollets, Paris; FLACC, Genk. His works are in the public collections of: Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Centre Pompidou, Paris.
Recent exhibitions include: The World is Flat, MCAD, Manila (2017); Witness, 1st Karachi Biennale (2017); Utopia/Dystopia, MAAT, Lisboa (2017); 5th Thessaloniki Biennale (2016); 56th Venice Biennale, Belgian Pavilion (2015). Published monographs include: Constant Interjections, TWAAS/Koenig books (2013); James Beckett, Kehrer Verlag (2009).