San Francisco

Emily Wardill

Altman Siegel

Emily Wardill’s Game Keepers Without Game, 2009, cribs from La Vida es Sueño (Life Is a Dream), a seventeenth-century Spanish play by Pedro Calderón de la Barca, but the source is nearly unrecognizable. Whereas Calderón’s play revolves around the life of a Polish king who imprisons his son at birth, Wardill’s adaptation, set in contemporary Britain, recounts the tale of a mixed-race girl put up for adoption by her family and her father’s dubious attempt, many years later, to bring her back into the family fold. Although the plot is linear, Wardill complicates its telling with an exaggeratedly slick, glossy stylization—the entire piece is shot against a stark white backdrop that casts everything into specimen-like relief—and a glacial pace. Furthermore, she incorporates varied acting styles, multiple narrators (some reading appropriated texts), and seemingly nonsensical shots of commercial

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