VIDEO: Cally Spooner Takes on the Bizarre Nature of Corporations at the New Museum

It's the artist's first museum show in the US.

It’s hard to miss the performers moving around the New Museum’s lobby in New York. Beyond a glass partition that isolates the gallery from the cafe, a group of twentysomething dancers wearing workout clothes rearrange themselves throughout the day in curious and unpredictable positions. Cafe-goers nearby tend to crane their necks toward the glass to see the action.

Cally Spooner is the brains behind the project, and this show marks her institutional debut in the US. “On False Tears and Outsourcing,” which runs through June 19, is a performance that closely examines human behavior under what the artist describes as an unforgiving rubric of corporate logic.

The performance consists of a rotating cast of a handful of dancers engaged in what Spooner likens to stand-up scrums. “[It’s] a meeting you would use in an agile workplace like advertising or software development,” she explained in an interview with artnet News. She continued, “Employees need to self-organize themselves to produce products that are quite immaterial.”

Spooner describes herself as a director, rather than an artist; and looking back at her previous projects, it’s a role she seems to relish. In her 2013 commission for Performa, Spooner assembled 18 female acapella singers to re-enact events of the contemporary moment. The following year, Spooner hired three opera singers to perform at the High Line.

Despite the difficulties involved in gleaning specific insights from Spooner’s conceptual projects, clues to understanding the work are readily on display at the New Museum. The glass gallery, for example, is designed to stand in for the idea of a glass meeting room, which Spooner identifies as an exclusionary and inauthentic corporate space.

The dancers’ tasks, which include reaching the far-end of the gallery’s wall all together, seem simple enough. But these prompts are complicated by myriad challenges that the artist throws into the mix, all of which underscore the tension born out of competition and intimacy.

“I’m sort of occupying the space like an editor, an administrator, or a manager,” Spooner said.


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