Nora Turato. pool 4. Book spread scan, designed by Sabo Day, printed by Robstolk in Amsterdam, 2020

Nora Turato’s pool 4

The artist uses found language to speak loudly, publicly, and boldly, and shares downloadable posters.

pool 4 is the title both of a performance and a book produced for MoMA, in which the artist Nora Turato collects language from a range of sources. These “pools” of texts, pulled from the Internet, media headlines, advertisements, conversations, books, commercial products, and her own thoughts, are assembled and arranged, with no logic or narrative structure, into a growing script that Turato memorizes and performs.

Nora Turato. pool 4. Book spread scan, designed by Sabo Day, printed by Robstolk in Amsterdam, 2020

Nora Turato. pool 4. Book spread scan, designed by Sabo Day, printed by Robstolk in Amsterdam, 2020

Turato harnesses a wide range of voices by changing rhythm, intonations, speed, and volume. As she explained in a recent interview, “Voice is very rewarding as a medium.... It’s a bottomless pit of ephemeral craft and possibilities. No translation from thought to any material is needed, because you can just say it, or sing it, or scream it. But it’s up to you to do it, to pass that barrier of shame, to make voices when you’re alone, to overcome the fear of being the crazy one, talking to yourself.” She doesn't assume a persona or try to create a new identity. In high school, Turato was in a punk band, which partially explains why her performances are poignant, vexing, and irreverent. She disrupts the archetype of a soft-spoken woman: she speaks loudly, publicly, and boldly, touching on many themes, from politics to entertainment to sex. She speaks without any need to seduce, without being afraid to be dismissed or shut down.

Turato understood early on that documentation could not be a substitute for her performances, so she found her own way: no video recordings, no photos, just graphic design and words; whether in her books or in videos of the script, made up of single words flashing on the screen at the speed of her delivery, or in her posters, which carry mordant phrases in the aesthetic of cigarette packages. The publication is simultaneously an artist’s book, archive, prop, set, and exhibition.

Nora Turato’s pool 4 was scheduled to open on May 6 in the Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis Studio, as part of the inaugural series Studio Now, which champions emerging voices, forms, and discourses across media, from international and local artists. Her performances demand a certain dedication and focus. They are usually 25 minutes long, and the audience arrives at a scheduled time. The same was planned for pool 4 in the Studio. The pool 4 books were to be stacked on the floor in the middle of the Studio, forming a stage, with Turato performing on and around them. Every day a certain number of those books would migrate to the MoMA Design store to be sold. In the time of social distancing, when physical proximity has been challenged and compromised, coming together to see a live performance has to be rethought. Yet, bodies came together recently in protests, and anti-racist slogans have been circulating through voices and quotes.

[Turato] speaks without any need to seduce, without being afraid to be dismissed or shut down.
Ana Janevski

While we are waiting to gather for the live presentation of pool 4, Turato’s performance circulates in a new way. Here, pool 4 is delivered as a selection of posters. You can download a page from the book, choose some trenchant catchphrases, hang them on your wall, and think about how “We have done so much with so little for so long, we can do anything with nothing now.”

Download the pool 4 posters in PDF format

pool 1 (2017), pool 2 (2018), and pool 3 (2019), all designed with the graphic designer Sabo Day, precede pool 4, produced exclusively for MoMA.