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Beatrice Gibson Solo for Rich Man, 2015
Beatrice Gibson. Solo for Rich Man

Collection presentation

Although Beatrice Gibson explores a wide range of interests in her films, as an artist and filmmaker she is centrally concerned with ‘musical modes of production and how they relate to filmmaking’. Gibson expressly draws on the avant-garde composers of the 1950s and 1960s such as Cornelius Cardew, John Cage and others associated with the Fluxus movement. The participatory nature of her projects also reflects the pedagogical aims of many involved in avant-garde movements of this period, incorporating collaborative and improvisatory processes that form the films’ structure and shape.

Royalty-free images to be used exclusively for press on Mudam
© Collection Mudam Luxembourg Donation Baloise Group Photos : Aurélien Mole

Like many of her works, Solo for Rich Man (2014) originated from a collaborative creative process, in this case a workshop that Gibson and the cellist-composer Anton Lukoszevieze ran with a group of children. The film takes as its departure point American author William Gaddis’ epic modernist novel JR (1975). An eerily prescient, biting social satire, JR tells the story of a precocious eleven year-old capitalist who, with the unwitting help of his school’s resident composer, inadvertently creates the single greatest virtual empire the world has seen, spun largely from the anonymity of the school’s pay phone. Paralleling the educational environment in which JR unfolds, a large part of Solo for Rich Man is staged in an adventure playground in Shoreditch, East London. The playground, one of several in existence in London, was created in the 1970s in accordance with radical pedagogical ideas concerned with affording children the greatest possible freedom. Together with Lukoszevieze, who also appears in the film, Gibson and George – a participant in the workshop and the film’s central character – conduct a series of individual scenes through which sound and image weave suggested narratives.

Many of the film’s scenes echo both the ideas and achievements of Fluxus composers; George Maciunas' pieces Solo for Rich Man and Solo for Balloons (both 1962) feature prominently and are followed by Disappearing Music for Face by Chieko Shiomi (1966). The playful and enigmatic fashion with which Gibson explores her interest in the aesthetic and pedagogic theories of the 1960s and 1970s is particularly apparent in one scene in which Lukoszevieze and George enthusiastically perform a vocal duet using paralance associated with the finance industry as if improvising instrumentally. Here, Gibson contrasts the abstract nature of music theory and the immaterial nature of contemporary finance within the framework of child-centered approaches to learning.

Displaying great technical and formal maturity, Gibson's works, with their fragmentary narratives, often seem like excerpts from an on-going process. With Solo for Rich Man, the artist extends her inquiry into the abstraction and the structural parallels between avant-garde music and economics, concerns that she explores in depth in her latest film Crippled Symmetries (2015), in which George again takes centre-stage.

Beatrice Gibson was born in 1978 in London, where she lives and works.

The Baloise Art Prize is awarded annually at Art Basel to two artists exhibiting within the Statements section of the fair. Founded in 1999, the prize has focused its support on young artists reserving a part of the award to acquire and donate one or an ensemble of works by the artists to two of the partner museums. Mudam Luxembourg, has been one of the museum partners for the Baloise Art Prize since 2015 and Marie-Noëlle Farcy, curator / head of the Mudam Collection is a member of the jury.


  • Marie-Noëlle Farcy

2015 Baloise Art Prize