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Cally Spooner, And You Were Wonderful, On Stage

Solo show
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
16 Jan - 17 Apr 2016

Cally Spooner
And You Were Wonderful, On Stage

The Stedelijk Museum will exhibit And You Were Wonderful, On Stage (2013 – 2015), an immersive five-channel film installation by British artist Cally Spooner.

In this work, a musical for six continuously rolling cameras, a black box soundstage and its inhabitants, are recorded in a single take. The mechanics of the shoot (cameras, microphones, mixing boards, chromakey screens and crew) remain as present as the performers they capture. Cast and crew become a constant-motion human backdrop, pragmatically recomposing scene-changes through lighting cues, voice, body movement, or continuous shifts of filmic apparatus and props. The semblance of a post-production edit arrives through the organisation and orchestration of bodies on set.

This work has its origins in a commission by the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam’s Public Program. Cally Spooner developed And You Were Wonderful, On Stage, a peripatetic musical, over the course of two years. The piece was delivered by a chorus line of women, gossiping about celebrities, athletes and politicians who have outsourced their performances to a technology, with examples including Beyoncé’s lip-syncing scandal during the presidential inauguration, Lance Armstrong’s Oprah-mediated apology for his use of doping, and speechwriter Jon Favreau’s departure from the White House in pursuit of a career as a Hollywood scriptwriter. The chorus’ libretto was based on meeting notes from an advertising agency, on how to extract personally disclosed stories and aspirations from employees and repackage them to better reflect the voice of their corporation as a tv-commercials.

After a public rehearsal at KW Berlin, And You Were Wonderful, On Stage was then developed as a co-production with Performa 13 in New York and Tate Modern, London. In 2014, the Stedelijk Museum permanently committed itself to this work by acquiring it when Spooner was developing the performance into a five-channel installation during her residency at Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC), New York, after a year-long period of public events and temporary exhibitions to develop the film’s composite parts and characters. Now, in 2016, the museum will show the completed work in its entirety for the first time.


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