Artist Talk: Carey Young
Carey Young will discuss her practice, including the context, background research and ‘making of’ in the development of her video work Palais de Justice (2017), currently exhibited at Towner.
Palais de Justice was filmed surreptitiously at the Palais de Justice in Brussels, an enormous and ornate 19th century courthouse designed to depict law in terms of the sublime. Contradicting the familiar patriarchal culture of law, Young’s camera depicts female judges and lawyers at court. Sitting at trial, directing proceedings or delivering judgments, female judges are seen through a series of circular windows in courtroom doors. Always shooting without permission, Young subtly builds a counter-narrative: a legal system seemingly centred on, and perhaps controlled by women, as if male presence may be optional or unnecessary in this particular future. Young’s camera becomes implicated, either caught within reflections, or through becoming noticed by some of her subjects. The windows and the camera’s lens are suggested as an interwoven series of oculi, in which we watch justice as performance and are ourselves implicated as witnesses and voyeurs. The piece considers the complex relations between lenses, surveillance and ideas of framing or being framed, which are at the core of the law-related work Young has been developing for more than a decade.
The New York Times termed Palais de Justice ‘a distinctly feminist view of jurisprudence… sensitive and bleak’. Artforum reviewed the piece as ‘mesmerizing’ and ‘transfixing’, with Young’s cinematography ‘breathtaking’. Palais de Justice at Towner has received enthusiastic reviews and features in Art Review, Art Monthly, London Review of Books and PhotoMonitor.
Young will also discuss related aspects of her wider practice, including her body of artistic work which explores the potential of law as an ‘artistic medium’. Young collaborates with a legal team to make artworks in installation, video, performance, print, sculpture and photography which also operate as bespoke and experimental legal instruments. These have taken such diverse forms as disclaimers, contracts, offers, licenses, cautionary statements and a will, addressing such disparate legal fields as human rights, inheritance law, intellectual property and ‘outer space’ law. These artworks explore law in relation to performance and visuality, and explore law as a separate kind of ‘reality’, one with its own inherent subjectivities and points of breakdown.
Palais de Justice continues at Towner until 2 June.
Carey Young’s solo exhibitions include Dallas Museum of Art (2017), Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich (2013); Eastside Projects, Birmingham and tour (2010–2011); the Contemporary Art Museum, St Louis, and The Power Plant, Toronto (both 2009), Henry Moore Institute, Leeds (2004) and John Hansard Gallery, Southampton (2002). Selected group exhibitions include Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2017 – 2019), Aspen Art Museum (2016), Centre Pompidou (2015, 2018), Tate Liverpool (2014), the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2012), the New Museum, New York (2011), MoMA/PS1, New York (2010) and Tate Britain (2010), as well as the Taipei, Moscow and Sharjah Biennials. She lives and works in London and is represented by Paula Cooper Gallery, New York.