A video meditation on one of life’s big questions

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The artist Jonas N.T. Becker grew up in West Virginia and Michigan, attended college in western Massachusetts, and graduate school in Irvine. She’s lived in Madrid, France, Nicaragua, New Orleans and Pittsburgh. No wonder her work is infused with a sense of exploration and inquiry.

Her show of video art, four pieces under the title Zol Zayn–Yiddish for “What if?–opens this weekend at Shulamit Gallery in Venice. I talked with her by phone as she installed her work:

KCRW: “What if” is a question we all ask ourselves at some point. In what context do you ask yourself that question?

BECKER: I think about things all the time, like, ‘What if my cereal bowl could levitate and follow me around the house?’ ”What if there was a tunnel between NY and LA?’ I also think a lot about paradigmatic shifts, what it’s going to be like to think about our world when we’re standing at a vantage point we can’t imagine.

KCRW: One of the pieces in the show poses a more specific question, “What one thing would make your life better?”  How would you answer that for yourself?

BECKER: When I was a kid I thought science would have advanced to the point that by the time I wanted to biologically have a kid with another woman, I could.  I think I also thought when I was a little kid, they’ll cure cancer when I’m 65 and at high risk.

hand pedestal

KCRW: You incorporate photography, video objects and performance from around the world. Explain your unique methodology.

BECKER: Part of the process is about trying to come up with a collaborative input model for generating the work. And so that’s kind of what I was interested in. Reaching out to people around the world was a moving and phenomenal experience.  I collected footage from new year’s in every time zone. One of the videos that is featured in that sequence is a friend  of mine sitting on his porch in Long Beach with his dog, from that to people shrieking in Moscow. I felt I was everywhere at once.

Zol Zayn is up at Shulamit Gallery, 17 N. Venice in Venice, through March 4th