Sarah Morris, 1932 [Rings], 2006
Household gloss paint on canvas, 289 x 289 cm
May 26 – July 26, 2009
Curated by Gianfranco Maraniello and Andrea Viliani
MAMbo – Museo d’Arte Moderna of Bologna is showcasing the first solo exhibition of Sarah Morris in an Italian museum and has the pleasure of welcoming the international première of her new film: Beijing.
Starting from the mid 1990s, Morris became famous due to paintings and films characterised by an abstract and complex structural approach. The artist creates paintings and films in which she traces urban and social topologies. The urban environments, the architectural motifs, the symbols, the places and the representations of the power are the subject of a close investigation, according to an alternation of fiction and reality. She explores both the psychology of the contemporary city and its architecturally encoded politics in order to survey how a particular moment can be inscribed and embedded into its visual surfaces. Morris assesses what today’s architectural façades, urban structures, cities and nations might conceal. Often, these non-narrative fictional analyses result in studies of power, of the structures of control, of global socio-political networks.
Beijing, an 86-minute 35mm film, focuses on one of the most intricate and ambiguous international broadcasted events of past years – the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. It observes the overwhelmingly perplexing and contradictory economy and authority of China, made all the more resonant in current climate of global crisis. The film continues Morris’s investigation into the psychological and political space of architecture and the changing city. It explores a spectacle unfolding during the days leading up to and surrounding the Olympics of 2008. 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 President of China, Mr. Hu Jintao, moments before his speech at the opening ceremonies on August 8th, 2008. The unmediated and the scripted are all part of one continuum. Morris’s version of cinéma vérité uses not only architecture and its infrastructure as phantom characters, but political leaders (Henry Kissinger), Olympic athletes (Michael Phelps), actors (Fan Bingbing), performers (Lang Lang), film directors (Zhang Yimou), and architects (Rem Koolhaas, Norman Foster, Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron) in a quasi-narrative about this developing city that opens up numerous fictional possibilities and questions the authorship of the spectacle itself. Beijing depicts a hitherto closed country at a moment of apparent and possible theatrical openness, a hidden culture at a moment of extreme visibility.
China 9, Liberty 37, a reference to the English title of 1978 Italian-Spanish western film (Amore, piombo e furore), contains eleven paintings, the film, and a site specific large scale wall painting by the artist. The exhibition itinerary includes works belonging to the series Origami and Rings. Origami paintings are based on schematic folding diagrams for the traditional Eastern paper compositions, which give rise to complex forms starting from a simple process. Also, in popular culture, origami is often used to signify impending events. The Rings paintings are titled by date of the various years of Olympic games and their corresponding cities. These works are based on the never ending “Ring Road” systems of Beijing, which ultimately lead to disorientation, and on their analogy with the official symbol of Olympic Games (the five rings of the Olympic flag). The large scale intervention, Taurus, will occupy a 30-metre-long exhibition hall of the museum.
Sarah Morris is also having a concurrent solo exhibition at the Museum fur Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt, Germany.