This Jez Burroughs review was originally published by Department of Enthusiasm on October 18th, 2020.
Jose has a meteorite. The Crockers have a 43-year-old Cuisinart. I have a wooden Bernese Mountain Dog. We hold our objects up to our webcams and Mary del Campo squints, nods, takes notes. “Very good,” she says, “so many wonderful friends.”
Objectivity: From Clutter to Clarity with Mary Del Campo is an hour-long seminar about decluttering. It’s also completely fictional, a gentle ribbing of Marie Kondo’s whole song and dance in the form of a piece of interactive theatre that unfolds entirely over Zoom. No, wait, look: I dream of returning to a time when we only use the word ‘zoom’ to describe rockets or very fast dogs. I’m tired of trying to force the square peg of pre-COVID life into the round hole of a webcam and convincing myself it’s a passable substitute. However, Objectivity is the first piece of lockdown theatre I’ve seen that feels tailor-made for both the time and the platform, making light use of the program’s features (the chat thread, switching video on and off to answer questions) to reinforce its fiction. You’re not watching theatre; you’re attending a seminar.
What I didn’t expect from the show was what I love most about seeing art—returning to the real world to find something has shifted. Seeing a Bridget Riley retrospective and seeing nothing but neat, recursive patterns for the rest of the day. Watching New York, New York at the Metrograph and stumbling out into the Lower East Side in the rain unsure of what decade it is. Through methods I won’t spoil, Objectivity pits minimalism against nostalgia and subverts a currently-inescapable medium, leaving subsequent video calls charged with something magical and uncanny. Telling you much more would ruin it—get a ticket, bring an object, play along.