“SHE WAS THE ONE TO WATCH,” Bruce Hainley recalls thinking when he surveyed the local art scene in the summer of 1997. He’d just moved to Los Angeles and seen an installation of Julie Becker’s photographs at Regen Projects. Becker had recently been profiled, along with Liz Larner, Catherine Opie, et al., in Ralph Rugoff’s Harper’s Bazaar feature “L.A.’s Female Art Explosion.” The year before, her monumental CalArts MFA thesis project, Researchers, Residents, A Place to Rest, 1993–96, had been selected by Paul Schimmel, then a curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, for the 1996 São Paulo Bienal.
Created or, perhaps better, compiled over several years while Becker was living in a run-down SRO in then-seedy Echo Park, Researchers, Residents . . . spanned several discrete areas. It included a scale model of a rooming house, discarded refrigerator boxes (“the last refuge
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