Kimberley Beach works primarily with autobiographical experiences as subject matter for work across mediums to explore the vulnerability of the female body. Informed equally by life experience and feminist narrative, she works to take political ownership of the female form, highlighting the implications and considerations of her body when re-imagined or re-contextualized in the public space. With her practice, she aims to contribute to an ever-evolving realm of discourse concerned with female authority and experience.
Beach studied her BA at the University of Westminster and is currently studying for her MA at the Slade School of Fine Art, starting in September 2016.
Note: If you would like to view the full film (above is a clip) please e-mail Kimberley at email@example.com.
How did the idea for The Whole is less than the Sum of her Parts come about?
I had just finished my project He’s got a Pole, You’ve got a Hole, get the Fuck Home which was a sound piece focusing on the things women do subconsciously to remain safe in a public space and previous to that I had made Progressive Pain Which used vaginal imagery and moving image to explore the damage inflicted by sexual trauma, whether that be physical or emotional. From using direct imagery of the female form in Progressive Pain to absolutely no imagery at all in the sound piece, it moved me in the direction of telling this story using all three mediums, a middle ground between the two. I work from autobiographical experiences as subject matter as a means to explore the perceived vulnerability of the female form. With that in mind, I decided to focus on the effects of childhood trauma and how inner strength and external kindness can guide you through emotional pain. In The Whole is less than the Sum of Her Parts the narrative for me was an integral part of the project. The story was so important, by using sound it allowed me to expose the emotion of the words spoken. This was something I wanted to keep sincere and by incorporating the use of text and moving image I managed to create fragmentation, a breathing space away from the truth.
What are the significance of the locations filmed?
I filmed in my hometown, Middlesbrough. The place worked really well as I wanted something personal to me but something that would remain universal which is why the location isn’t mentioned in the film, I wanted it to resonate with the audience, I wanted them to feel like this place could have been their home. The location also worked due to its declining industrial industry which the town was built on, from this I was able to capture cinematic views of pollution and decay but then, amazingly, it has a beautiful coast and the town sits on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors so you have these areas of outstanding natural beauty. It communicates the juxtaposition that is consistent throughout the film narrative.
What has it been like to share such personal and often taboo personal moments?
It can be quite difficult. This story in particular was something I wanted to do for close to five years but didn’t feel ready enough to commit to it, I wanted to do it justice and I wouldn’t have been able to do that had I rushed into it. I still found it very difficult while making the film, half way through I shut down and I didn’t feel ready to deal with the sound aspect of the film, which is a narrative of childhood trauma, mainly that of sexual assault and I instead decided to focus on the editing of the film before the film was even finished! I went into complete denial. Luckily I had an amazing university tutor who told me straight, she made me accept that I was afraid and I managed to get it finished. I think feeling afraid or apprehensive is quite normal. It’s hard, once you start something you don’t know what wounds are going to be reopened but I think it’s best not to rush it. Take a breath.
How important was it for you to mix both your difficult experiences with those of love throughout the video?
That was the most difficult part of creating the piece. I wanted a balance between the positive and negative, to give the full picture. I didn’t want the work to be a monologue of negative experiences, life isn’t like that; everyone has small acts of kindness gifted upon them, no matter how small. By juxtaposing the damage inflicted against the dialogue of a stable relationship, I aimed to communicate the act of reparation, whether that be self-achieved or with the help of someone else, the light at the end of the tunnel almost. I overlaid moving image, text imagery and sound narrative to create a sense of disorder and confusion, to show that it isn’t a simple, smooth one way journey out of despair. You have sound, a voice invading your ears with a traumatic story while you are trying to read affirmative words flashing in front of you. Are the two intimate? Are they the same person? Is the cinematic imagery of landscapes the location of these events? The audience is trying to piece all these areas together like a jigsaw. To get the full picture you first have to dissect it, to see how they all interlink, to show a path from start to finish. Without love interrupting pain, no one would know how I got to where I am now.
How do you see your work developing and what’s next for you?
I will be undertaking my MA at The Slade School of Fine Art in September 2016 where I will be researching the narrative of feminist movements, examining the issues raised in each movement and examining how this influenced the work being made during that time. I’m interested to see if the issues of working class women have been communicated in art and if so how much attention has this work been given in relation to women from a higher social standing? I will also be looking at work from lesbian artists or those dealing with queer subject matter, in order to examine whether lesbian visibility in art correlates with the intersectionality in the feminist movement.
By concentrating on class and queer visibility within art, especially that in the medium of film and sound, I will be able to link my personal to my practice through theoretical research. Therefore allowing myself to develop as an artist, intellectually or creatively.