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Indepth Arts News:

"Callum Morton: More Talk About Buildings and Mood"
2003-10-29 until 2004-01-26
Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney
Sydney, , AU Australia

Known for his elaborate architectural models, Melbourne-based artist Callum Morton presents an exhibition of new and recent works, More Talk About Buildings and Mood, at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art on 29 October (though to 26 January 2004). Morton’s work incorporates sculpture, photography, sound and digital imagery to set familiar forms from architectural history against their original function. Weaving drama and humour into his work he undermines the seriousness of many buildings, filling them with narratives drawn from life, movies or books.

Gas, a new work created for the exhibition, sets an architectural masterpiece - Philip Johnson’s iconic Glass House from the late 1940s – against its manifestation as a drive-in petrol station. As a 1:10 scale model, Johnson’s design is reconstructed around the classic clean lines of a 1960s service station - a canopy extending over fuel pumps, an adjacent garage workshop and a twinkling pool of petrol collecting from a leaking bowser hose. The abandoned station, the distant sound of a radio playing, seems the scene of impeding disaster, or maybe a deserted crime scene. Emerging from the gallery wall, Habitat, another recent work, is six metres long and over one metre deep. A 1:50 architectural scale model of a mass housing project built in 1967 in Montreal, Canada, by Israeli architect Moshe Safdie, Habitat represents, on a half hour cycle, a day in the life of the complex and those that might live there. With gallery lighting simulating day through night, the building comes alive with morning alarm clocks, an arguing couple and their reconciliation, the sound of dogs barking and babies crying, or the flicker of television sets as evening approaches. The work frames domestic conflict against the 1960s dream of community living, concepts underpinning the complex’s utopian conception.

Exhibition curator Stuart Koop said, “Callum’s work focuses our attention on the relationship between private and public space, between reality and illusion. His works are animated by double entendres, people fighting or having sex, flickering television sets, or family fights, transforming the pristine and empty spaces of some of the world’s famous buildings into places bursting with contrary events.”

More Talk About Buildings and Mood also includes a major new work not previously seen in Sydney - International Style Compound, a work in which four versions of Mies’ Farnsworth House are arranged like display or kit homes, in a court or compound setting.

Several smaller scaled models will also be presented, including Cabenon, a small cabin designed and used by Swiss architect Le Corbusier; Oh Brigitte, Italian architect Adalberto Libera’s astounding house for Italian writer Curzio Malaparte which was also used as the set of Godard’s 1963 film Contempt starring Brigitte Bardot; and Cottage Industry: Bawdy Nights, a model of Captain Cook’s family house, supposedly shipped brick by brick to Australia, the sounds of a lusty sex romp echoing from within – a reference to British TV sketch comedy rather than any alleged antics of Cook’s.

Callum Morton was born in 1965 in Montreal, Canada. He studied Architecture and Urban Planning at The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) before completing a BA in Fine Art at Victoria College Melbourne in 1988 and an MA in Sculpture at RMIT in 1999. He has taught at Melbourne’s leading art schools and exhibited around the world including the 1999 Melbourne International Biennial and at the Santa Monica Museum of Art as part of the 1999 Los Angeles International Biennial.

Callum Morton
Gas, 2003
Courtesy Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne

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