60 WRD/MIN ART CRITIC
Denise Prince
7/10/09 4:52 PM

Everything about Denise Prince’s video “Beck” feels raw and unguarded, full of intimacy and confidence. Of course it is constructed to communicate just that. The artist appears in a sexy sheer bra and a pair of old panties, her hair disheveled and lips chapped. The setting is a bare, acid yellow bedroom whose floral mattress has had its sheets stripped back. What the artist does there is sit close up to the camera and tell a personal story, ostensibly about the musician Beck, whom she’d met years ago, before he was famous. What the story is really about, however, is not Beck but what it takes to feel and project confidence and to need intimacy and attain intimacy. Never mind how Beck provides the excuse for this discourse, what’s far more compelling is the twist that Prince herself offers by suggesting that her character lacks confidence and intimacy, while exuding both of them in this video. Her unpampered and carefully mismatched semi-nakedness suggest both confidence and intimacy overtly, but anyone with a sense of styling could fake it. No, what really proves that the woman on the screen already has what she’s asking for is what she does in the last part of the video, after the storytelling is over. She dances. She dances to no music we can hear, though it looks like it has a fabulous, hard, complex beat. She dances like a banshee. She dances on the bed. She dances like a nut. She dances with a big, black dog. She dances like she’s happy and strong, even if just secretly so.

—Lori Waxman

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