Indepth Arts News: |
"Callum Morton: More Talk About Buildings and Mood"
2003-10-29 until 2004-01-26
Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney
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
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
Courtesy Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne