The Mind is King and the Body is Dehydrated

Cally Spooner

In Residence: Sep 14 – Nov 16, 2015

Exhibition: Nov 12, 2015 – Jan 17, 2016

Tell us about your space.
The space has a different condition than the rest of the building. The room looks like it should be cold because of the lighting, but it is actually heated to as close as body temperature as possible. There are two works in the space that are both dominant, though they’re also the most immaterial. I’ve removed the gallery’s usual lighting system and replaced it with 46 high-luminosity daylight bulbs, which are normally used in a workspace to give the impression of daylight. The gallery space is over-illuminated—I wanted the space to feel alienating.

How does the office environment play into your work?
I’m interested in architectures and institutions that normalize the body so it can be productive. This led me to think about, for instance, how air conditioning cools and warms a body. We’ve reached a point where the situated body is less a part of our work systems. Subjugation and suffering happen in the body, but the things that really effect a workplace—management and direction—all happen in the mind.

Spaces where you have to concentrate on an artwork or office work are set up so that you don’t feel your body. If you feel pain, your body gets in the way of you being productive. I wanted to see what happens when the architectures of neutral work environments go berserk, get in the way, and become irksome. From that I started thinking about this accelerated condition for this room.

Tell us about the bronze cast of your ear.
Before I came to Artpace, I had a dream about my ear, which I later interpreted to mean to follow your intuition and think more about intimate spaces. I began drawing my ear a lot while I was here and through my drawings I thought about how my ear is this super important labor tool—in the way I work and labor as an artist, especially one who deals with ideas of management and managing people (I often work with large groups of performers), but also in explaining my work to people through talking, lecturing, and listening. The ear is a very intimate space that can be kind of erotic or personal, but it’s also a space that works super hard publicly to listen and interpret. I made a negative cast of my ear and then reproduced it as a positive in a precious metal, because the ear is valuable as a labor tool, but also an intimate thing.

How does writing play a role in your exhibition?
The writing I’ve been doing feels like the start of a research project. I began writing a novel while simultaneously writing about more formalized topics such as micro- and macro-management. I’ve placed stacks of paper in the gallery containing the various threads of this writing project. They also include equations and formulas (related to energy transfer and a patented chemistry formula to stop sweating) that function as coded reminders to me of the places in my research I haven’t been yet.

These single sheets are neatly stacked in the gallery under cold lights in a hot room, held down by bronze casts of my ear. The conditions of the space make you aware of your own body, and to get to the writing, you have to lift up my ear to take a piece of paper that functions as an insight into my own research process. All together, I want people to think about this relationship between management, light, and heat. These don’t manifest in a physical way until they come into contact with a body, at which point they make the body sweat and then someone’s back hunches over or their wrists hurt or an email gets produced. Ultimately there is very little material in the space because the people entering the gallery become a part of the work.


Cally Spooner

London, England

Cally Spooner uses theory, philosophy, pop music, current affairs, and corporate rhetoric in her writing and performance. She produces plotless novellas, disjunctive scripts, looping monologues and musical arrangements to stage the movement and behavior of speech in contemporary culture. Spooner has had recent solo presentations and performances at Bielefelder Kunstverein, Germany; Frieze Film, London; Tate Modern, London; Performa 13, New York; Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen; and the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Spooner has recently completed a production residency at EMPAC (Experimental Media and Performing Arts Centre) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. She is a recipient of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award for Artists 2013.

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Cecilia Alemani

New York, New York, USA

Cecilia Alemani is the Donald R. Mullen, Jr. Curator and Director of High Line Art Program. Cecilia was a guest curator for Performa 11, and a collaborator on the Frame section at the Frieze Art Fair in London and Frieze Talks series in New York. From 2009 to 2010, she served as Curatorial Director of X Initiative, New York, a year-long experimental non-profit space where she curated numerous exhibitions including solo shows by Keren Cytter, Luke Fowler, Hans Haacke, Christian Holstad, Derek Jarman, Mika Tajima, Tris Vonna-Michell and Artur Zmijewski. At X Initiative she conceived and organized more than 50 events including performances, panel discussions, symposia, lectures, concerts and screenings. In June, 2009, Cecilia co-founded No Soul For Sale, a festival of independent spaces, non-profit organizations, and artists collectives which took place at X Initiative, and at Tate Modern – Turbine Hall in London in May, 2010 as part of the museum’s tenth anniversary celebration. She has organized numerous exhibitions including The Comfort of Strangers (MoMA/PS1, New York, 2010); boundLES (at numerous venues in the Lower East Side, New York); ONLYCONNECT (Bloomberg Headquarters with Art in General, New York, 2008); and Things Fall Apart All Over Again (Artists Space, New York, 2005). Alemani holds a BA degree in Philosophy from the University of Milan (2001) and an MA in Curatorial Studies (2005) from the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York.

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