It Needed to be Tender and to be Whipped
Béna's practice mostly enfolds in performance and sculpture. However, this collection of poems, essays, film and theater scripts wind around her visual art work. The reader navigates through these various forms, and finds them situated against the different places where Béna wrote them, bearing witness to the inspiration that each locale offers Béna's multi-layered experience. The scope of expression found in Béna's use of language demonstrates how relationships form between an artist’s writing and their other practices. In It Needed to Be Tender and to Be Whipped, one is exposed to Béna’s view on everyday situations, a view filled with wonder and thus perceptive of the mystery in small things. Narrations escape into the irrational and surreal. A love affair is just as wonderful as a stranger eating an apple. Since most texts are intended to be performed or read aloud, the publication is accompanied by an audio recording of the works on a USB key.
“Julie Béna’s art and poetry offer the profundity of a sphinxian riddle. She fosters a dream-like state that blends freewheeling imagination with a vintage pop culture sensibility. The results are dislocated from references to the culture of a specific time or place, but are evocative and enchanting nonetheless. Béna’s biography is so full of whimsy and fantasy that it seems as if it could have been an unfilmed screenplay.” Daniel S. Palmer, curator, art historian