Spike Island: And You Were Wonderful, On Stage

Upon walking into the exhibition space for Cally Spooner’s And You Were Wonderful, On Stage, is a lone TV screen in a barren room. The screen rolls film or tv-style ending credits over a white background, evidencing the length of time and help in production required to create the ‘performance’. Media editors, stagehands, production studios, performers and more ascend one after another, inviting the viewer to consider the people behind the spectacle they’re about to witness before going in, turning the traditional role of production credits upside down.

IMG_8854Five screens are placed on the walls of the exhibition space, each displaying a feed from a different camera. But far from a multi-angle viewing experience, these five perspectives are arranged and coordinated in such a way to reveal one of the central points of the work: that media, whether conspiratorially, accidentally, or just by introducing a camera to a scenario, changes how people act.

IMG_8858At any given time in And You Were Wonderful, On Stage, one screen may be showing a professionally choreographed dance performance in a traditional ‘viewing angle’; others could be showing the performance from a different perspective; and others still might concentrate on what happens behind the scenes, showing how the scenery and props are repositioned by stagehands.

As well as the musical piece underlying the performance itself, we’re exposed to conversations between takes, in which organisers of the performance discuss how the performance will be delivered, inviting the viewer to consider every element around a media ‘text’ as well as the text itself. With a choice of five screens, one can choose what perspective to take.

IMG_8860Additional takes along a similar theme are provided. The ‘performance’ repeatedly cuts to ‘commercial breaks’ in which a member of staff at a company is being interviewed for a promotional video. His words, though, have been regurgitated by a PR machine working to enhance the image of the company – Cally Spooner draws on her real-life experience in copywriting as inspiration for this.

In other sections of the film, celebrity is explored in the fields of music, sport and politics. Again, the intention is to portray the rehearsal of apologies, in order to jab at the wider idea of scripted, non-live and ostensibly impromptu ‘performances’. Watching And You Were Wonderful, On Stage breaks down your sense of identity between viewer, performer and co-conspirator.

And You Were Wonderful, On Stage continues in Spike Island until the 21st of June 2015.