‘Promise Me That You Will Not Live an Ordinary Life’ is the title of the new body of work from multi-disciplined artist Jason Armstrong Beck. Continuing on from his celebrated ‘The Journal of Bison Jack’ which has been swimming in the currents of the internet for over a decade, ‘Promise Me…’ is an ode, of sorts, to the days when names, numbers and brief flirtations were scribbled in late-night matchbooks and slipped into the hands of romantic possibilities.
The project has taken Beck several years to realize and has resulted in over 120 worn and faded 1930’s and 1940’s matchbooks inscribed (typed with an Old Smith Corona typewriter) with Beck’s concise and sometimes rather profound observations. The work has also been scanned and transferred to large format archival prints for exhibition purposes. For some time, Jason Armstrong Beck’s work has woven photography, film and poetry together—most recently in the form of large-scale installations and short films—but ‘Promise Me….’ is a change in direction, not just in terms of scale and visual vocabulary but in the questions he asks. It is as though he is stripping everything away in search of a place that exists in each of us; a place we have forgotten how to reach; a place where we all speak and feel the same language.
“‘The Journal of Bison Jack’, like most diaries, has always been an attempt to make sense of my life, but as I transitioned more into poetry it allowed me to be more vulnerable and, of course, because of the lack of actual physical writing space, the matchbook poems have taught me to be concise and to get to the point quickly and say as much as I possibly can in the least amount of words.”
Long time ally Laura Zurowski (of Mis-Steps and Missed Connections fame) has said that coming across a Bison Jack poem is a bit like discovering a pool of drinkable water in a post-apocalyptic landscape and this new work contextualized by a bygone America and realized in these increasingly fragile times—goes some way to restoring our faith in our ability to prevail. ‘Promise Me That You Will Not Live An Ordinary Life’ will be exhibited in the spring of 2022. In the meantime, the majority of Jason Armstrong Beck’s recent work can be found here.