Inside SCI-Arc


11.30.09 | W.M. Keck Lecture Hall, 7:30pm
Friends of Friends Discussions: Sarah Morris, with graphic designer Richard Massey

Sarah Morris, with graphic designer Richard Massey, will conclude the Friends of Friends discussion series hosted by SCI-Arc in connection with deegan day design's BLOW x BLOW exhibition, on display through December 13.

Scheduled Monday, November 30, 7:30pm, in the SCI-Arc Gallery.

Beijing (2008) - 35 mm film, 84:47 min

Since the mid-1990s, Sarah Morris has been internationally recognized for her complex abstractions and films, which play with architecture and the psychology of urban environments. Morris views her paintings as parallel to her films - both tracing urban, social and bureaucratic topologies. Through these two media, she explores the psychology of the contemporary city and its architecturally encoded politics. Morris assesses what today's urban structures, bureaucracies, cities and nations might conceal and surveys how a particular moment can be inscribed and embedded into its visual surfaces. Often, these non-narrative fictional analysis result in studies of conspiratorial power, structures of control, and the mapping of global socio-political networks.

Sarah Morris's film Beijing observes the overwhelmingly perplexing and contradictory economy and politics of China, made all the more resonant in the current climate of the global credit crisis. The film explores the spectacle that unfolded during the opening of the 2008 Olympics. Shot from multiple perspectives and given unprecedented access by the International Olympic Committee, Beijing captures the variances within the city, from the urban routine of its citizens to the choreographed actions of various heads of state.

The Olympics – with their sense of historical urgency and unconditional trust in the future and nationalism– embody a system that marks the modern confluence of capitalism and mass media by means of an unprecedented mastery of technology, the mass migration of people, and a hyper-mediated event culture. In Beijing, Morris plays with the notion of duality, coupling it with the constant presence of the spectacle or the event and its constant multiple interpretations.

Morris's film is a surreal portrait of an authoritarian state of turbo-capitalism, during a period when the International Olympic Committee effectively took over sovereignty of the capital. Beijing depicts a hitherto closed country at a moment of apparent and possible theatrical openness, a hidden culture at a moment of extreme visibility. Consequently – and this is perhaps why we are made to think of conspiracies – the film questions the authorship of the spectacle, who is in control, and ultimately, the role of the artist.

About Sarah Morris

Born in the U.K. in 1967, Sarah Morris lives and works in New York and London. She attended Brown University, Cambridge University, and the Whitney Museum of American Art's Independent Study Program. She received the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painting Award in 2001, and in 1999-2000 was an American Academy Award, Berlin Prize Fellow.

She has had numerous international solo exhibitions including Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt (2009); Museo d'Arte Moderna, Bologna (2009); Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel (2008); the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam (2006); Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2005); Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2005); Kestner Gesellschaft, Hannover (2005); Kunstforeningen, Copenhagen (2004); Miami MOCA (2002); Nationalgalerie im Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin (2001); Kunsthalle Zürich (2000); Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia (2000); and Museum of Modern Art, Oxford (1999).