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“The Wooster Group,” installation view, Carriage Trade, 2019-20.

Gallery displays of performance materials walk a line between highlighting and fetishizing, documenting and memorializing, but in a thoughtful new exhibition—the first ever on the acclaimed experimental theater troupe, The Wooster Group—the objects that once appeared onstage, in performance, are compelling in their own right. “It’s a balance between context and aesthetics,” says Carriage Trade gallery curator Peter Scott, “but this is unapologetically an art show.”

How are stage props works of art? Founded in the 1970s, The Wooster Group is a legendary downtown-New York theater outfit, with a revolving cast of actors (Willem Dafoe, Kate Valk, and Steve Buscemi among them) and an interest in surfaces, in artifice. Characters and text are collaged with found media and material props so that the plays feel less about the messages you take away from them and more about the effects they have upon you.

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