Pool 5, Nora Turato
Tara Kenny

I May Have Girlbossed Too Close to the Sun

The day I plan to go to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) to see Nora Turato perform pool 5, it’s snowing. I text my friend Mia to reschedule for the next day, so we can traipse around the city unencumbered by sleet. That night she sends “Omg Tara” and a link to an article, “MoMA Evacuated After 2 Women Stabbed Inside Museum: NYPD”. We take it personally, of course. Grainy surveillance footage shows a man leaping across the information desk to hunt cowering staff members like prey. The suspect is later identified as Gary Cabana, a former Broadway usher and devoted arts fan who reportedly turned violent after he was refused entry to a screening of the Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn film Bringing Up Baby, (1938) due to a revoked membership.1 I Google Cabana’s Instagram, which is surprisingly easy to find and mainly innocuous: grainy photos of theatre programs, an enthusiastic musical review something along the lines of “I have never heard so many incredible singers at once!” and a post expressing sadness about the pandemic’s effect on theatre.

“Museum of Modern Art stabbing: NYPD names suspect, releases video of MoMA incident”, Staten Island Advance, screenshot taken on 13.03.2022, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGfD6tk1hec&ab_channel=StatenIslandAdvance

Not long after the MoMA stabbing, I watch Cinemania, 2002, a documentary about a handful of hardcore film buffs who race around New York City from cinema to cinema all day, every day. One subject mentions that he does not believe reality should be privileged above cinema. Overall, they seem lonely but not desperately unhappy, bar an older lady named Roberta who is prone to erratic behaviour. A MoMA worker recounts how Roberta once strangled her over a ripped-up ticket stub, then came back poorly disguised in a blonde wig and red lipstick and wept when she was again refused entry. Of course, this incident feels prescient in light of Cabana’s attack, as if it was only a matter of time before things turned grisly between a crazed culture vulture and whoever happened to be caught in the crossfire between them and the art that gives their life meaning.

Stephen Kijak, Cinemania, 2002, 44:52 film still, Trash Cinema is Life, screenshot taken on 13.03.2022, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tzAHmvso-BM&ab_channel=TrashCinemaIsLife

I go to MoMA on 20 March, the last day of pool 5, but leave my phone with the tickets on it at home and have to circle back. By the time I make it up to the studio, a few minutes before the performance, the line is huge. “What is this, a nightclub?” says one security guard to another, before informing us they’re over capacity so we’ll have to watch it later on YouTube. In classic New York fashion, a bespectacled woman tries to name drop her way in.

All of this is to say, I end up watching the performance from bed, weeks later. For the first few minutes of the livestream the sound doesn’t work, so Turato is introduced to a room full of silent applause. She strides out, simply dressed in Nikes, black pants and a white top, her hair severely parted straight down the middle and pulled into a bun. Although I can’t hear anything she’s saying, her ramrod straight posture and wildly gesticulating arms give the commanding impression of an entrepreneur doing a TED Talk. Just under 7 minutes in, the audio kicks in and Turato bellows, “Let me tell you something, all you marketers out there! All the big marketers, all the successful ones, they come to me”!2

Nora Turato, pool 5, 2022, performance documentation, The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York. Photo: Julieta Cervantes. Courtesy of and copyright The Museum of Modern Art.

For 30 minutes, Turato channels seemingly disparate characters and situations, cobbling them together into a cohesive whole. A backroom business deal ($“15,000 clams? It’s a deal! Welcome to new waters, Dick!”),3 gives way to a story about doing shots of Einstein’s stolen brain as part of a college hazing ritual, followed by a fallen girlboss’ manifesto (“I may have girlbossed too close to the sun, but that's on me!”)4 and a fraudulent fortune teller’s metamorphosis into a master bullshitter so accurate they scare even themselves. Turato’s command of voice and body are masterful, allowing her to move between thespian grandiosity and conspiratorial whispers in an instant. Speaking to MoMA curator Ana Janevski after the performance, she admits a resistance towards documenting her performances, which “kind of sucks”5 in comparison to the real thing. Wistfully, I imagine the energy in the room.

Turato’s work is an attempt to bring order and meaning to the constant barrage of information that constitutes contemporary life. She accumulates content from sources including YouTube, books, news articles, Twitter and even a sticker she passes in the street and makes intuitive selections of what is worth her time, before organising these inputs into art books. She hopes these “annual reports of culture”6 will amass greater meaning over time. A small sliver of the language from her books - pool 1 through 5 - makes its way into her live performances, for which she sometimes spends weeks practising the intonation and articulation of a single line, which was originally a seemingly random sentence that just happened to cross her path. Turato credits this practice with giving her a sense of purpose, particularly during the pandemic, when many people felt unmoored and directionless.

Nora Turato, pool 5, 2022, performance documentation, The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York. Photo: Julieta Cervantes. Courtesy of and copyright The Museum of Modern Art.

I think of the subjects of Cinemania, outcasts who have found a way to be in the world by mediating life through a screen and of Gary Cabana, who descended into chaotic behaviour when his artistic structures fell away. Cabana left tidbits scattered across the internet that provide some insight into his life and psyche. On his blog, Cine in the City, he provides an origin story: “Longtime cinephilia addiction landed me in NYC during the Oscar race of 1999. I've been following, watching and writing about the movies ever since. Prefer quality Hollywood, Arthouse, Indie and documentary films. I do have my ‘guilty pleasures’ but they are rare”7. In the days after the attack he took to Twitter to complain of a “frame job by MoMA”8 and allegedly used the alter ego account of a fictional English sex worker to defend himself: “If Warhol were alive this guy would become a STAR at THE FACTORY and be immediately bailed out & exonerated for his crimes AS ART”!9

I go to message Turato on Instagram to ask if she’d consider using Cabana’s screeds in pool 6, but get a message back saying she does not allow new contact from strangers. Sometimes the barrage of content needs to be mitigated, I suppose.

  1. Bridget Read, “What Made the ‘MoMA Stabber’ Snap?” Curbed, 30.03.2022,

  2. Nora Turato, “pool 5,” Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, live streamed video 20.03.2022, 06:52,

  3. Nora Turato, “pool 5,” Museum of odern Art (MoMA), New York, live treamed video 20.03.2022, 09:07,

  4. Turato, “pool 5,” 10:22.

  5. Turato, “pool 5,” 1:00:45.

  6. Turato, “pool 5,” 34:38.

  7. “Cine in the City,” Patreon, accessed 17.04.2022,

  8. Cine in the City (@cineinthecity), “What is worse? Hackers or Journos. Right now, I LOVE MY HACKERS for taking my mind off this frame job by MoMA. THERE WERE NO DISRUPTIONS. Security NEVER escorted me from MoMA on the 2 "supposed" days I "acted up: 2/24 + 3/9. Total blind side when I got "the letter" from Daniel P,” Twitter, 13.03.2022,

  9. Times Quare Loqweeta (@timesquareqwyn), “​​If Warhol were alive this guy would become a STAR at THE FACTORY and be immediately bailed out & exonerated for his crimes AS ART!” Twitter, 13.03.2022,

Please note, the title of the article “MoMA Evacuated After 2 Women Stabbed Inside Museum: NYPD” was later changed to “Two MoMA Workers Stabbed After Man Denied Entry to See Film: NYPD” in order to more accurately reflect what actually happened in this incident.

pool 5 ran from to 05 March to 20 March 2022 at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York. This piece responds to the Sunday, 20 March 2022 performance of pool 5.

Tara Kenny is a culture writer based in New York, with work in Interview Magazine, i-D, The Guardian, The Saturday Paper, The Monthly, The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, Brooklyn Magazine, Paper, Frankie, Gossamer and numerous zines and independent publications. She holds a Master of International Relations from the University of Melbourne and a Bachelor of Professional Communication from RMIT University. On the internet, she is @slurpette.

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