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Cally Spooner

'DEAD TIME: Narrator’s Script’


18 February – 31 August 2021

Opening with silence, or more accurately with the absence of action, Cally Spooner’s ‘DEAD TIME: Narrator’s Script’ (2019-2021) introduces the listener to an altered sense of time in which no major event nor narrative development takes place. The script is one element drawn from Spooner’s 63-page performance score ‘DEAD TIME’ (2018) which she has been incrementally translating through live performance and installation since composing it in Autumn 2018.

The ‘DEAD TIME’ score is set in “a surveillance-capitalist crime scene” where an absurdist ecosystem of living and non-living characters co-exist in a resistant, pervading present-tense atmosphere; waiting, rehearsing, repeating, yet never quite converging.

The Narrator is both a single male voice and solo piano. Ruminating on faltering immune systems, unstable financial markets, corporate feminism and #MeToo, the Narrator’s composite of pirated language and attenuated silences is met with a regimented bleep-beat and the timed swell of piano repeating the theme tune from a Netflix TV show.

Through this loosely improvisational structure, the reading, like the ‘DEAD TIME’ score as a whole, seeks to hold a space that remains resistant to ‘chrononormativity’ – the imperial, masculinist standardisation of time that orders labour, performance, and digital technologies into a progressive future-orientated linearity.

This particular reading was recorded with a live audience at Camden Arts Centre, London, on the 11th March 2020. In a convergence of events, this took place on the day social distancing was introduced in the UK, setting in motion a collective state of pause.

In her sound edit for The Common Guild, Spooner pivots the listener’s focus towards a very uncomfortable captive audience on the cusp of dramatic societal shift and a year of intermittent captivity. The soundtrack of the room and the audible tension of bodies gathered together brings a palpable clarity to the reading; both staging and activating a state of dead time, testing this as a potential to reset neoliberal temporalities of productivity and liveliness.

Recording Credits

The original recording at Camden Art Centre was organised and commissioned by Lynton Talbot as part of Spooner’s project at Parrhesiades, London.
The piano is played by Neil Luck.
The voice is Jesper List Thomsen.

Artist Biography

Cally Spooner (1983) lives and works in Turin, Italy. Rooted firmly in her training in philosophy, her practice is generated through writing, unfolds as performance, then lands as film, sound, sculpture, drawings or scores. Her performances incorporate duration and rehearsal as acts of resistance to corporate-digital and performative climates in which it is hard to tell the difference between what is alive and what is dead.

Spooner has a forthcoming solo show at the Fondazione Morra Greco, Naples (2021) and commissions at the Walker Art Centre, Minneapolis and MOCA, Cleveland (both 2021). Her solo shows include 'DEAD TIME', The Art Institute of Chicago (2019); 'SWEAT SHAME ETC.', Swiss Institute New York (2018); 'Everything Might Spill', Castello Di Rivoli, Rivoli (2018); 'DRAG DRAG SOLO', Contemporary Art Centre Geneva (2018); 'Soundtrack For A Troubled Time', Whitechapel Art Gallery (2017); 'On False Tears and Outsourcing', New Museum, New York (2016). ‘On False Tears’, her monograph, was published by Hatje Cantz and Edizione Madre in 2020. Her book 'Scripts' (2016) is published by Slimvolume, and her novel 'Collapsing in Parts' (2012) is published by Mousse Publishing.

Listeners should experience ‘ DEAD TIME’: Narrator’s Script’ whilst walking, working or engaging in other activity. We recommend listening with headphones.

Part of 'In the open' – Series II

Sound Mix by Tom Sedgwick.
Mastering by Stephan Mathieu /
Schwebung Mastering.
Design by Maeve Redmond.