Carey Young Receives Artist in Residency Grant for Exhibition at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis

The Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis is pleased to announce the receipt of a $10,000 grant from the Nimoy Foundation for an Artist in Residency for British artist Carey Young. For her first-ever solo museum exhibition in the United States, Young engaged a broad St. Louis audience with her participative, interactive project involving live telephone operators.

“One of the joys of contemporary art is that we have the chance to meet and talk with contemporary artists. Having an artist come to the museum and work with the staff members and the community even furthers this exciting aspect,” said Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis Director Paul Ha. “With the support of the Nimoy Foundation, artist Carey Young was able to work with us and the community. This was a very rewarding experience.”

For her exhibition at the Contemporary, Young created a new site-specific installation featuring a working call center launched from within the museum. Beginning at the entrance to the gallery space and spreading into the museum’s administrative areas, Young transformed the Contemporary into a space of performance and interactivity with the museum public. As part of the exhibition experience, visitors literally pick up the phone to become both listeners and performers in Young’s pieces. On the other end of the phone are call center agents—employees of local St. Louis cable company Charter Communications— who were trained by and worked with the artist throughout the exhibition. As visitors speak to these agents, the familiar and ubiquitous process of “customer service” becomes an experience that is at once fictional, mysterious, entertaining, and even cinematic.

The artist considers the local context—St. Louis, its landscape, its people, its history, and its culture—to be the key point of departure for her exhibition and for the creation of these telephone-based works. As for much of her work, this exhibition relies fully on the interactive participation of its viewers, the local community and museum public. It is only through her extended experience working in St. Louis, with the community, museum staff, and in particular with the call center agents trained by her, that Young was able to fully develop the concepts, the references, and the components of this important exhibition.

In recent years, Young has gained international recognition for her works across a variety of media which investigate the increasing incorporation of the personal and public domains into the realm of the commercial. Young’s projects often center on notions of language, training, and performance, and take an ambiguous political stance in order to create a web of complex associations and questions for the viewer.

Carey Young: Speech Acts, alongside Chantal Akerman: Moving Through Time and Space, opened in the Main Galleries at the Contemporary on May 8, 2009 and will remain on view until August 2, 2009.