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Capitain Petzel in Berlin Presents "John Hancock", New Works by Artist Sarah Morris
Sarah Morris, Still no. 2, Points on a Line, 2010. Stills from a colour film in HD, HD-Videostill in Farbe, 35 minutes 48 seconds © Sarah Morris. Courtesy Capitain Petzel, Berlin
BERLIN.- Capitain Petzel Berlin presents “John Hancock”, an exhibition of new works by Sarah Morris and her film ’Points on a Line’ (2010). The exhibition is on view from April 29 through July 30, 2011. Sarah Morris is one of the most intriguingly contradictory artists of her generation, known for her complex abstractions, which play with architecture, design and the psychology of urban environments.

Morris views her paintings as parallel to her films – both trace urban, social and bureaucratic topologies. In both these 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 analyses result in studies of conspiratorial power, structures of control, and the mapping of global socio-political networks.

In this exhibition, Morris exhibits a new series of paintings, “John Hancock”. Using as a starting point the iconic 1967 Skidmore, Owings and Merrill building, called the John Hancock Center, Morris uses forms reminiscent of the structure of the first multi-use high rise building in America, named for John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance company, a developer and original tenant of the building.

An antenna, an ancillary spiral, the X-bracing exterior. Morris’s paintings create forms that are continuously splintering and self-generating, and without resolution, creating after-images of capitalism and pre-images of new systems of control. The paintings also play with the history of John Hancock as the ‘father of the signature’ and the corporatization of Hancock’s signature for Mutual Life. His flamboyant, stylish signature as a sign of ironic mockery and belligerence. Morris parallels and streamlines the corporatization of Hancock’s signature using her own initials in the new work, invoking a long history of not only industrial design, but also the role of the signature in relation to its confirmation of ownership, agreement to act and validation of artistic work.

The exhibition also features Morris’s film “Points on a Line” (2010). The Farnsworth House, Plano, Illinois and the Glass House, New Canaan, Connecticut. Philip Johnson and Mies van der Rohe. Curator and architect. Architect and architect. The film documents a shared desire to build structures that might change the way we think about a house, a form and a context. These two buildings were the result of shared ideas and collective desire. But they also complicate ideas of the copy and the original and the chronologies of Modernism.

By carefully documenting the daily maintenance of these two buildings and lingering over the precise placement of the structures in space and of objects within each structure, we are presented with a clear view of places that have gone beyond their initial modest use and become the intersection of a dialogue that was both personal and professional.

Morris filmed at both sites over the course of several months, among other locations including The Four Seasons Restaurants, the Seagram Building, Mies van der Rohe’s infamous Lake Shore Drive, and Chicago’s Newberry Library. Morris utilizes The Four Seasons, a place that Philip Johnson practically used as his personal office, as the meeting point between the two architects. Morris’s film is both a record of preservation of two structures and a document of power plays that left a mark in the pragmatic idealism of the late modern period.

Screening of Sarah Morris’ film “Chicago”
Saturday 30 April 2011, 6 p.m.




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