Palais de Justice – Carey Young


NEW YORK – Paula Cooper Gallery is pleased to announce a one-person exhibition of recent work by Carey Young.

The show will present Young’s video work Palais de Justice (2017), as well as a new series of photographs. The exhibition will be on view at Paula Cooper Gallery, 534 West 21st Street from September 7th through October 14th, 2017.


Palais de Justice

Palais de Justice was filmed surreptitiously at the Palais de Justice in Brussels, a vast 19th century courthouse designed in an ornate late Neo-Baroque style. Contradicting the familiar patriarchal culture of law, Young’s concealed camera depicts female judges and lawyers at court. Sitting at trial, directing proceedings or delivering judgments, female judges are spied through a series of circular windows in courtroom doors.

A Counter- Narrative – Female Legal System

Palais de Justice subtly builds a counter-narrative – a legal system seemingly centered on, and perhaps controlled by women. Here, men and their iconography of patriarchal power are still present, but their usually dominant position is reversed. Male lawyers wait patiently and nervously outside courtrooms for a female judge to allow them in. They stand in front of their judge as she enters, and remain standing until she allows them to sit. They plead their case in front of female judges, who only occasionally bestow attention. As the piece develops, Young also captures younger female lawyers in a more intimate way. Her camera gradually becomes implicated, either caught within reflections, or noticed by some of her subjects.

The piece develops Young’s interest in the complex relations between law, gender and performance, and considers the complex relations between law, lenses, surveillance and ideas of framing or being framed. Examined through the lens of contemporary politics, both within the United States and abroad, the film acts as a critical counterpoint to regressive trends towards autocratic government and limited civil rights, particularly those belonging to women.

Before The Law

For her new series of photographs, Young presents images of courthouse doorways. Titled Before the Law, after Franz Kafka’s 1915 parable in which the protagonist is continuously denied access to ‘the law,’ the series depicts these these doorways as metaphors for the legal system itself. Courtrooms are glimpsed in various ways – a red glow emanating from one entices us with its surprising warmth and seductiveness; a red velvet curtain in another calls to mind law’s reliance on aspects of theatre; in a third, a courtroom visible through a frosted glass window glows like an abstract painting, as if law’s abstractions may connect with artistic thinking in ways which have not yet been fully considered.

About the Artist

Born in 1970, Carey Young is British-American. Her work has been exhibited in prominent national and international exhibitions and has been the subject of numerous one-person exhibitions including Dallas Museum of Art, curated by Gavin Delahunty (2017); Migros Museum of Contemporary Art, curated by Raphael Gygax (2013); Eastside Projects, Birmingham, England (2010), which traveled to Cornerhouse, Manchester and MiMA, Middlesborough; Le Quartier, Quimper, France (2013); The Power Plant, Toronto (2009); and the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (2009). Young’s work has also been presented at the Taipei Biennial (2010), Tate Britain (2009), Moscow Biennale (2007), Modern Art Oxford (2007), Performa 05 and the Venice Biennale (2003).  A monographic study of her work, Subject to Contract, was published by JRP Ringier in 2013. The artist is currently based in London, England.

Watch Carey Young’s talk at the Synesthesia of Law Conference at Princeton University on “You Have A Body.