Beth B exploded onto the New York underground scene in the late ‘70s, after receiving her BFA from the School of Visual Arts in 1977, creating installation art works and directing Super-8 films. Controversial and political in approach and content, these breakthrough films, such as Black Box, Vortex, and The Offenders, were shown at Max’s Kansas City, CBGB’s, and the Film Forum. These and more recent films have also been shown at, and acquired by, the Whitney Museum and The Museum of Modern Art. Her early films, along with those of Jim Jarmusch and Amos Poe, are the focus of the documentary film, Blank City. Her films and artwork have been the subjects of several books and other documentaries, including The Cinema of Transgression; Downtown Film and TV Culture; Art, Performance, Media; and No Wave: Underground 80.
With a library of 30 films, B’s work has been the subject of retrospectives at London’s National Film Theater; the Montreal Film Festival; Lisbon’s Nucleo Dos Cineastas Independentes; and the Danish Film Institute. She has also shown her films and served on the competition juries at the Sundance and Toronto film festivals. Throughout her career, Beth B has continued to make interdisciplinary pieces involving painting, sculpture, photography, theater, and media installations. They have been shown at museums, galleries and public art spaces, including MoMA, BAM, the Whitney Biennial, the Tate Gallery, and PPOW Gallery. A series of photographic portraits of vaginas caused a sensation at Deitch Projects, and resulted in publication of a book of her photographs, titled Portraits. An exhibition at the Hayward Gallery in London, Hysteria, dealt with censorship of female sexuality featuring video, sculptures and live performance. Click here for a complete list of exhibitions.
In 2016, Beth B releases her new feature documentary film, CALL HER APPLEBROOG, with Zeitgeist Films as distributor. The film will have its world premiere at The Museum of Modern Art at Doc Fortnight. The film reveals renowned artist Ida Applebroog’s groundbreaking artwork that has been a sustained enquiry into the polemics of human relations, but more intimately, it is about her dramatic struggle to overcome adversity. Her personal story is one that Beth B knows well—Ida is her mother and colleague.
In 2013, B released EXPOSED, a non-fiction feature about 8 women and men who use their nakedness to transport us beyond the last sexual and social taboos. The film premiered in the Panorama section at the 2013 Berlin Film Festival, screened worldwide, and is currently streaming on Amazon.
Beginning in 2001, Beth B began a new phase of her career, making television documentaries and docudramas, which she continues to do. Titles include Positive ID: The Case Files of Anthony Falsetti; Death of a Rising Star; Crimes Scenes Uncovered; and An Unlikely Terrorist.
Her first 35mm film, Salvation! (1987), a sharp-edged social satire starring Viggo Mortensen and Exene Cervenka, prefigured pop culture's fascination with tele-evangelism. It premiered at the Berlin Film Festival and played theatrically worldwide. In 1988, her screenplay Life in Luxury was selected for the Sundance Screenwriter's Lab. Two Small Bodies (1994), based on Neal Bell’s play and starring Fred Ward and Suzy Amis, was featured at the Locarno, Toronto and Sundance Film Festivals.
Critics at the New York Times, Village Voice and other outlets have praised her work as "compelling,” ”captivating,” “extraordinary,” “a tour de force,” and have written that “her videos are haunting and her feature films brilliant."
In addition to her film and art productions, Beth B teaches fine arts at the School of Visual Arts in New York City and teaches film at Montclair State University.