Cally Spooner is a British Italian artist. Exhibiting performances that unfold across media—on film, in writing, through speakers, illustrated in drawings—Spooner documents impressions of a ferocious, metric climate and reveals the traces of life left behind.
Rooted firmly in her training in socio-political philosophy, her choreographic exhibitions incorporate duration, asynchronicity, and rehearsal. These temporalities are positioned by Spooner as modes that resist and eclipse the performance, dismemberment and financialisation of everything—particularly everyday life.
This is where Spooner’s performances draw me, or maybe drag me, into a complex about liveness. By liveness, I am melodramatically thinking about being alive, i.e., not dead or inanimate, but existentially about being level, alive at a specifically fucked-up time, about failing to live up to the expectations of neoliberalism’s ride or die, while living out—what? precariousness, delusions, dreamy rites of penmanship?—and doing so live, in the flesh, personally, not only on record, or perhaps not on record at all. Spooner speaks to this liveness because her work paradoxically examines the deadened aspects of our daily lives: places where extemporaneity, precariousness, fuck-ups, and forays have been edited out and where, in her own words, “live thought is caught transforming into cliché.”
- Sabrina Tarasoff, Contretemps, X-TRA
Melody’s Warm Up is a score for a cello, a building and anything in between them. The composition is meant to be completed in dialogue with its environment, with unsynched interference. The melody heard seems familiar, though anti-narrative and episodic: the cellist Melody Giron is rehearsing Bach: Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major, Prélude by playing tonalisation exercises, a training inspired by the natural expression of the human voice, performed by musicians to find their ‘tone’ through scales or improvised repertoire. There is a lot of compositional room left in the score, often Melody is waiting. A brief, intermittent digital ‘beep’ clicks every 42 seconds, holding the composition together. Through the exploration of temporalities that are usually hidden from our sight, Melody’s Warm Up incites a reflection on how it is possible to rehearse, while coexisting with a performance demand.
- Cally Spooner
Only here the letdown is social, cultural, emotional. Liveness—or being alive (staying alive), or at least feeling alive—happens when our trite routines and acquired behaviors crumble, which, on Spooner’s terms, is when ill-fitting communicative acts clash and the belief systems ascribed to them are seen “slouching towards” disillusionment. (Like Eve Babitz, I would here also like to “thank the Didion-Dunnes for having to be what I am not.”) What her work pushes is the emotional whiplash experienced by an unsuspecting public as they find themselves comfortably dead under the good grace of capital’s performatives, only to be rudely awakened by hiccups and glitches in the system—hiccups that are a total drag yet end up affirming one’s onerous existence.
- Sabrina Tarasoff, Contretemps, X-TRA
If chrononormativity in its simplest terms is us all running on the same clock, this clock can often render invisible things that are slower and more durational, such as maintenance and care, that are crucial to our survival and to more sustainable approaches to living. Chrononormative history goes hand in hand with this and is often criticized as supporting linear, often masculine or accelerationist, accounts of history, accounts that are usually written by those who hold most power and who fix and determine their narratives according to their watch and profit. I’m trying to speak of the damage that chrononormativity can do, or at least render and make visible the moments where it’s present, thereby understanding better how a resilience to it might be developed.
- Cally Spooner in conversation with Ginevra Bria, DRAG DRAG SOLO: Cally Spooner, MOUSSE
“There is a lot of compositional room left in the score, often Melody is waiting. The composition is meant to be completed in dialogue with its environment, with unsynced interference. For instance, if it rains hard, you may not hear the cello. Or, if it is dark outside you might only see a fainted pear.”
- Cally Spooner, from the press release of the exhibition Two Thousand Six Hundred and Seventy-Four Seconds Wide at ZERO..., Milan