Screens Series: Kate Cooper


“Screens Series: Kate Cooper” continues the New Museum’s Screens Series, a platform for the presentation of new video works by emerging contemporary artists.

Cover Image:

Kate Cooper, Symptom Machine, 2017. Video, sound, color; 10:11 min. Courtesy the artist

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Kate Cooper (b. 1984, Liverpool, UK) deploys computer-generated imagery (CGI), a technology typically used in commercial production, to create worlds populated by digital figures who perform everyday human actions. Using an uncanny mix of photographic and pixel-built images, Cooper explores how new visual languages complicate divisions between physical and virtual selves.

Cooper’s CGI protagonists perform to soundtracks by Soraya Lutangu, also known as Bonaventure. They bleed, bruise, and get sick, displaying a fragility that belies their presumed immortality—and perhaps offers a way of resisting the demands of the digital capitalist economy. Cooper’s works suggest that we can reclaim autonomy by countering or refusing virtual forms of labor, instead allowing these intangible bodies to act in our place.

Several of the videos portray a woman haunted by a zombielike figure. In Symptom Machine (2017), the woman pulls herself along an endless conveyor belt. We Need Sanctuary (2016), which draws its title from “sanctuary sites”—places in the body that are impenetrable to medications—shows her coughing up blood. Infection Drivers (2019) further explores the body under attack. In that video, a CGI figure struggles to move and breathe in a translucent suit, which takes her body through transmutations of stereotypically masculine and feminine physiques as it inflates and deflates. In a time of increased public surveillance through facial-recognition software and biometric data mining, Cooper’s high-definition world invites us to investigate and perhaps find freedom in the technologies often used to constrain us.

“Screens Series: Kate Cooper” is organized by Jeanette Bisschops, Curatorial Apprentice.

Kate Cooper (b. 1984, Liverpool, UK) lives and works in London and Amsterdam. Recent solo exhibitions include Hayward Gallery, London (2019); A Tale of a Tub, Rotterdam (2019); and KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin (2014). Her works have been included in group exhibitions at Centre Pompidou, Paris (2020); Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam (2018); Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2018); Riga Photography Biennial (2018); Sonic Acts, Amsterdam (2017); Public Art Fund, New York (2017); International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (2017); International Center of Photography, New York (2016); Serralves Museum, Porto (2015); Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt (2015); and elsewhere. She has been awarded residencies at the Rijksakademie, Amsterdam, and the Saari Residence in Hietamäki, Finland.

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